While taking a needed break from chanting and blowing whistles, a trade unionist remarks:
"Only nine members voted for the amendment. As a Hong Kong citizen, I feel sad and ashamed."
If someone who is not directly affected by the exclusion of foreign domestic workers or FDWs from the statutory minimum wage can feel that way, what more for those who are the ones excluded.
After over a year of discussions and lobbying it can now be said again that for all the hoopla of Hong Kong being liberal or a wonderful city for foreign workers, discrimination against those who are already at the gutter of this society is institutionalized.
In a society like Hong Kong that treats free market capitalism like a god, a successful campaign for a legislated minimum wage is a significant victory for the worker's movement. It could have been sweeter if only FDWs – numbering around 250,000 – are not sidelined.
The FDWs chant "we are workers, we are not slaves" encapsulates the various reasons why they assert their right for inclusion to such an important law. Their labour is as important as any worker in Hong Kong. Their labour also builds Hong Kong. Their labour makes it possible for these high and mighty LegCo members to sit in their plush offices and halls and debate how best to marginalize in law those who already have less in life.
Considering though the composition of the LegCo – majority coming from the business sector, some from a trade union who doesn't deserve its name, some more from "democratic" groups whose concept of democracy is quite selective – we were already uneasy on how the vote will go. When it came, it was as appalling as we thought it would be.
Good thing there was this unionist – and there are more of them – who felt the same as the FDWs.
Hope, indeed, still floats.