Employers in Hong Kong have been urged to grant special leave to Indonesian domestic workers with family members missing in the tsunami-hit zones of Banten and Lampung provinces.

The appeal from the Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body, a foreign worker rights advocacy group, said many Indonesians working in Hong Kong were unable to return to their ravaged hometowns to find their loved ones because they were bound by their contracts or refused leave by their employers.

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Sringatin, the head of the Indonesian Immigrants’ Union, appealed to employers to grant leave to their workers. Photo: Handout

A prayer service was held by the group in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park on Sunday, attended by more than 100 Indonesians and members of religious associations.

Rosidah, who had worked in the city for less than one year, told reporters it had been more than one week since the tsunami but she still did not know the whereabouts of her four-year-old son and other family members, who lived in a fishing village close to the stricken area.

Rosidah was unable to return to Indonesia because of her contract.

Earlier reports of unsympathetic employers who refused to grant leave to their workers angered Indonesians in Hong Kong and society in general. But there have also been compassionate employers.

A local grandmother offered two weeks of leave to her caretaker, even after her relatives were all confirmed safe. The Indonesian, who was touched by the kindness, decided to remain in Hong Kong to look after her employer as a cold snap was about to hit the city.

Read: Employer denies worker leave to find relatives after tsunami