Filipino domestic worker numbers in Hong Kong continued to fall last month despite the government’s decision to allow entry to those fully vaccinated among them, to ease the acute shortage of foreign helpers in the city.
The latest figures obtained from the Immigration Department show that the Filipino domestic helper population slipped by 405 in October to 197,412, reversing an uptick to 197,817 in September.
From January this year, the Filipino DH population has shed 7,359 workers.
The drop could be due largely to Hong Kong’s decision to limit the entry of FDHs to just about 40-50 a day, with officials saying they wanted to avert the possibility of having to deal with an upsurge in imported cases.
As a result, the thousands of Filipino workers who have been waiting for months to come here have been left struggling with having to book a place in any of the three designated quarantine facilities for them.
Indonesian domestic helpers, the next biggest FDH group after the Philippines, saw their headcount drop by 1,001. From 146,958 in September, the number fell to 145,957 in October.
As a result of the declines, the total FDH population dwindled to 351,408 in October from 352,888 in September.
In his blog early last month, Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong estimated the shortage of FDHs in Hong Kong at tens of thousands.
“The number of FDHs in Hong Kong peaked at 400,000, but today has fallen to less than 360,000. The shortage … is tens of thousands. You can imagine how much pressure thousands of families face without the support of foreign domestic helpers.” Law said.
He said this distress appeared when the epidemic began early last year, and turned more serious on Apr 20, when the government decided to ban flights from extremely high-risk countries like the Philippines to prevent the virus being brought into Hong Kong.
The shortage has driven up salary offers for FDH who are already in Hong Kong, said some employment agencies that are pressing the government to relax the entry of FDHs. They said some employers are offering from $6,000 to $8,000 a month, although migrant leaders scoff at the claim.