Some OFWs in Hong Kong lose rest day over protests


Posted at Jun 17 2019 11:56 AM

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Employers barred some Filipino workers in Hong Kong from taking a rest day as some 2 million protesters choked the streets on Sunday in a powerful rebuke of a proposed law that would allow extradition to China, a community leader said Monday.

The protest snaked its way to the city's financial and central districts, where Filipinos often spend their day off from work, Bayan-Hong Kong and Macau chairperson Eman Villanueva said.

"Maraming mga kababayan natin ang hindi pinalabas ng employers. Hindi binigyan ng rest day. Unfair naman iyun kasi ang laki-laki ng Hong Kong. Puwede naman nilang sabihin na 'wag pumunta sa mga lugar na iyun [na may protesta]," he told radio DZMM.

(Many of our compatriots were not allowed to go out by their employers. They were not given a rest day. That's unfair because Hong Kong is big, they could just have been instructed to refrain from going to the protest sites.)

Protesters light candles in honor of a man who died after falling from a scaffolding at the Pacific Place complex while protesting, during a demonstration demanding Hong Kong's leaders to step down and withdraw the extradition bill, in Hong Kong, China, June 16, 2019. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

Hong Kong is home to 230,000 Filipinos, most of whom are domestic workers, the Philippine Consulate earlier said. Rest days are "very important" for OFWs who typically clock in 18 hours at work, Villanueva said.

Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam has suspended the bill but refused to step down.

Thousands camped out overnight to continue the protest, including outside the legislature, with the police seemingly ceding the streets to the jubilant masses.

Critics fear the Beijing-backed law will entangle people in China's notoriously opaque and politicized courts and damage the city's reputation as a safe business hub.

With a report from Agence France-Presse