Officials from Indonesia’s Ministry of Labor plan to meet with their Hong Kong counterparts to find out more about the potential opening of the city’s elderly-care sector to foreign workers.
Maruli Hasoloan, Indonesia’s deputy minister of labor, told Asia Times in an interview on Thursday in Jakarta that officials plan to visit Hong Kong at the end of this month or in early November to talk about the possibility of introducing Indonesian caregivers to the city.
Indonesia is interested in helping to fulfill Hong Kong’s needs in terms of elderly-care services, he said, adding that his country had a labor force “who are patient, skillful, nice and friendly”.
Indonesia encourages its overseas workers to have competency in certain occupations including care work, he said, adding that his country will cooperate with Hong Kong’s elderly-care program.
His comments came a day after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in her maiden Policy Address on Wednesday that the government would consider giving subsidized elderly-service units more flexibility on importing caregivers.
The Hong Kong government has also said it would launch an experimental program to provide 300 domestic workers already in the city with nursing skills to improve their ability to meet the needs of elderly people in their care.
The 18-month trial program, co-organized by the Social Welfare Department and the Department of Health, will be launched in the first quarter of next year.
Law Chi-kwong, secretary for labor and welfare, said on Friday that the Hong Kong government would ensure local workers’ rights while opening the caregiver market.
The Labor Department and Security Bureau are planning to set up an interdepartmental group to create a mechanism to hire foreign caregivers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries, Hong Kong newspapers reported on Monday.
The current median wage for a caregiver in a private elderly center is HK$12,000 (US$1,537), or HK$14,000 for staff working in government-subsidized centers for the elderly. That compares with a minimum wage of HK$4,310 for foreign domestic workers.