Survey on the outsourced Nepalese cleaning workers
By CLEANING WORKERS UNION
Taking up one of the least paid and recognized jobs in Hong Kong, cleaning workers are placed at the lowest social stratum. Among all the EM, Nepalese has become the most vulnerable group of people working due to their lower education. The low-wage condition, exploitation and the over-time work has become a raising concern. Therefore, Cleaning Workers Union has conducted a survey on the working conditions of the EM cleaning worker. The purpose of the survey is to explore whether the statutory minimum wage is enough or not.
This survey has been conducted from August to September, 2017 and 80 Nepalese cleaning workers have been interviewed, working in 5 different districts. The result of the survey indicates that majority of them are of middle age group and are above 60 years old. Almost all the workers have no idea about what their rights like schemes due to the language barrier. According to the survey the ethnic minorities cleaning workers had to share some of the problems they are going through while some others were noticed to be a problem after the union visited them.
Housing has become a major concern among the workers. The monthly rent is usually $6,000-11,000 for small flats and for big flats is about $12,000-$13,000. These problems bring to the concern that the workers are spending most of their salary to pay for the rent. Most of the workers are of the mid-aged group and are certain to face the hard-life due to the family size. Usually the family size of the workers is 4-5 in a Nepali household.
The survey indicates that, majority of the interviewed workers have two jobs, working over 12 hrs a day. Most of the workers had to say that they do not have enough wage to support their family with one job; therefore to support their family they sacrifice their rest day and work part time job. No wonder many of them choose to work instead of taking an annual leave, so they get a little more wage.
Besides the above major problems, the other causes are low education, not only in academic wise but also in the language barrier. The reasons for workers not voicing about the wage increase is because of the fear of being terminated from their work and also the worries of not being able to get to work anywhere. Since the ethnic minorities cleaning workers have been facing this situation from the start, they feel very inferior to voice out. Most of the workers are new to the idea of voicing out itself, therefore having no experience; they feel no confident to come forward for a better change towards the low-wage job.
In view of the wage problems faced by the ethnic minorities cleaning workers, we recommend the following policy to be made:
1. Increase Minimum Wage Level
Reviewing the SMW rate yearly could provide further adequate wage protection for these vulnerable employees, who are more prone to exploitation. The pay rise must be higher to reflect the growing needs of workers.
2. Implement Living Wage
Living Wage concept should be implemented for all workers since EM workers are urged to take 2 jobs
3. Provide different language/Bilingual language on all documents
EM workers not majority but as fair and equal opportunities, the government should urge the subcontractor provide different language document, especially the contract, the regulation and the wage slip.
4.Inspection of the monitoring system of the sub-contracting companies
We urge the Government to carefully inspect the monitoring system of the sub-contracting companies and also increase the penalty to the companies that contravene the law.