Domestic worker representatives in Hong Kong are demanding a 25% increase in the minimum monthly salary to HK$5,500 (US$700) for the 354,000 workers in Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, representatives from various domestic worker organizations met with Labour Department officials in Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island ahead of the yearly assessment of the minimum allowable wage for domestic workers in Hong Kong, Sing Tao Daily reported.

The monthly wage for domestic worker now stands at HK$4,410. Meanwhile, the groups also demanded a rise in the food allowance from HK$1,053 to HK$2,500.

Eman Villanueva, the spokesperson for the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, described the minimum wage they are seeking as a “living wage,” while the new food allowance was said to be based on per capita food spending in Hong Kong.

During the meeting, the group also brought up other concerns, such as overcharging and other illicit practices by some employment agencies, suitable accommodation for domestic workers, rest hours and the strict enforcement of the window cleaning ban.

Meanwhile, 73% of employers agreed to a wage freeze and 22% asked to cut wages for their domestic workers, according to an online survey conducted by an employer group, news website HK01.com reported.

The Support Group for Hong Kong Employers received 3,800 responses to their online survey about the minimum allowable wage for domestic helpers in Hong Kong. The survey showed that only 6% of respondents agreed to a wage increase.

Joan Tsui Hiu-tung, the convener of the employer group, said employers need to pay about HK$9,000 a month to hire a domestic worker if the expenses for food, daily necessities and agency fees were included.

Tsui added that an increase in wages would add to the financial burden of low-income families or retired elderly people who need a domestic worker.