【照顧者的抗疫日常】移工姐姐:僱傭關係、種族分野之下的照顧工作(一)‧ [Days and Nights of Family Carers in the Epidemic] Migrant Domestic Workers: Care Work, Employment and Race (I)

【照顧者的抗疫日常】移工姐姐:僱傭關係、種族分野之下的照顧工作(一)
[Days and Nights of Family Carers in the Epidemic] Migrant Domestic Workers: Care Work, Employment and Race (I)

文:自治八樓移工共行委員會
Written by: migrants solidarity committee autonomous 8a

首刊於草根‧行動‧媒體
first published on grassrootsz‧action‧media
https://tinyurl.com/rxwygpp

當我們談論照顧者,不得不提香港三十萬移民家務工(移工),但他們的故事往往最難說。先說僱傭關係。移工也面對著普通打工仔的困難:僱主沒有口罩給你,你自己去找吧。不過,因為他們是與僱主同住的「工人姐姐」,有僱主擔心他們沒有防具在外惹了病毒回家,勞工處又帶頭「呼籲」外傭假期留在家中,所以僱主禁止他們外出放假——哪怕那只是一個禮拜一日的休息日,甚至有移工因為爭取自己的假期而被解僱。這裡面有來自社會和政策層面的歧視,但又不只是「黑心僱主拒絕保障員工的職安健」,與僱主的經濟能力也有關係。像Ris和Nina的兩種經驗可以看到,有錢的僱主自然張羅到防疫物資,也不介意去昂貴的連鎖超市買菜,但很多請得起工人的也只是普通小市民,四處排隊、上網預約也買不到一個。市道艱難,基層員工被共度時艱,手停口停。但移工「手停口停」的代價連帶一筆未還清的中介費(按:現時所有外傭必須透過中介來港工作,中介公司藉濫收費用以謀利),以及被遣返回國——如果他們能在本國就業,哪用背井離鄉。

Speaking of family carers, we cannot ignore 300,000 migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in Hong Kong. But their stories are tough to tell. Let’s start with the employment relationship. MDWs are facing similar problems as local workers: the employer will not provide you with any surgical masks, go and find one by yourself. However, MDWs are workers who are compelled to live in their employers’ houses. When employers worry that their workers will bring the virus home, with the help of the Labour Department appealing MDWs to stay at home on rest days, many of them are not allowed to have a day off even it is only once a week, and some are even fired because they fight for their rest days.

These are social and policy discrimination, but it also relates to the employer’s economic ability despite what is framed as “some conscienceless employers refusing to ensure employees’ occupational safety and health”. Searching for protective gears is never a concern for wealthy employers, and they don’t mind buying groceries in expensive chain supermarkets. While a number of families who can afford hiring a worker are just ordinary workers, they can’t even buy enough masks for themselves queuing outside medical stores or through online booking.

The market is down, so lower-class employees are fired, leaving the whole family’s living at stake. But what it means for MDWs is a large amount of agency fees due (Note: All MDWs must find a job via agencies in order to work in Hong Kong, which allows agent companies to make huge profits by overcharging) and the destiny of being deported (and that would be nothing left to say expect: who would like to work far from home if they can get a normal job back there?)

再說照顧工作。比起我們的媽媽及其他照顧者,移工的家務勞動至少受薪,但他們又與本地家務助理的工作待遇相差甚遠。目前移工的規定最低工資僅是每月港幣4,630,不受法定最低工資(每小時港幣37.5)保障;且他們又必須與僱主同住一片屋簷下,意味着沒有明確的放工時間。所以不少移工都在訪問裡提到,僱主因應疫情在家工作下的壓力(試著想像你和老闆住在一起24小時待命的情景)。而在不少家庭,移工不是唯一的照顧者——像是Ris,她們的「拍檔」通常都是女僱主。那麼,兩個照顧者之間的分工、協調是怎樣?移工又有多少話事權?當中就有對家務勞動、性別、族群三方面的貶低及歧視。

Then we try to talk about care work. Compared to our mums and other carers, MDWs’ domestic work are at least paid, but the working conditions are worse than that of local domestic workers. The current minimum allowable wage for MDWs is HKD4,630 per month, far lower than the statutory minimum wage level (HKD37.5/hr). Moreover, MDWs are compelled to live with their employers, which means they don’t have definite working hours, so many of them mentioned the pressure of employers working at home these days. (Imagine the scenario when you have to live with your employer and be on call for 24 hours.)

In some families, MDW is not the only carer – Like Ris, their “partners” are always the female employers in the house. So, what is the division and negotiation of care work between the two carers? Do MDWs have the power to say? These involve the depreciation and discrimination regarding domestic work, gender and race.

照顧者和被照顧者的關係就更加微妙。「好似一家人咁。」這是僱傭關係好的家庭常掛在嘴邊的一句話。可不是嗎?小朋友的依賴、撒嬌、傲慢、窩心,老人家的愛護、挑剔、脾氣、陪伴,這些情感勞動是每個家庭照顧者的日夜。但終究,他們不是移工的家人。從生疏到親密的關係總有一天會結束,因為移工終要回到自己的家庭,面對那一段動輒十年以上的空白;又,就算他們已在香港紮根,子女已各有家室,他們也不能選擇留下(按:外傭不論在香港打工多少年都不會有永久居民身份證)。再說,再要好的老闆和員工也抹不掉權力的差異。

The relationship between carers and those being taken care of is even subtle. ‘We are like a family.’ Said by the family who have good employment relationship. Indeed. The child can be dependent, arrogant, being affectionate and make you touched. The elderly can be caring, fussy, bad tempered and a good company. Such emotional labour is the days and nights of every family carer. Still, they are not the family of MDWs. The daily relationship, strange to close, is going to end some day, because MDWs need to return and fill in that missing page of their own families – which might be missing for more than 10 years. Even if they have been rooted in Hong Kong and their children have built their own families, MDWs have no rights to stay (however long they work, MDWs will never have the right of abode in Hong Kong). Plus, the power imbalance is always there even between a friendly employer and employee.

說到底,不過還是:公共照顧服務缺席、性別分工不平等、照顧工作不被承認、移工輸出和輸入國之間的利益輸送、由體制至社會對移民工的歧視。環環相扣,譜出以下苦澀的經歷。但這就是全部嗎?個人的際遇能夠超越這些枷鎖嗎?集體的反抗能夠帶來改變嗎?讓我們在掙扎與反撲之間看見他們的故事。

In the end, it is always the same story: the lack of public care service, gender inequality, non-recognition of domestic/care work, transfer of benefits between the export and import states, the institutional and social discrimination against migrant workers. The following bitter experience arise out of this vicious circle. But is that all? Can individual encounters transcend these chains? Can changes be made by collective resistance? Under persistent struggle and countercurrent, let’s hear their stories.

在有錢僱主家中燙傷雙手

Hands Scalded Working for a Wealthy Family

Ris傳來的相片

Photo provided by Ris

來自菲律賓的Ris(化名)為一家住在半山的西方家庭工作,最近家裡多了一個新成員:六個月大的BB女Amanda(化名)。太太正在放產假,白天全程照顧女兒;夜晚至第二天早上便交給「阿媽」(陪月員),讓太太可以休息。雖然不用凑B,但新生兒遇上病毒大軍,家裡當然啟動最高防禦級別——Ris成了「前綫」。

Ris (alias), from the Philippines, is working for a western family in the mid-levels. Recently they have a new member: a 6-month-old baby girl, Amanda (alias). The female employer is taking maternity leave, so she looks after the baby during daytime. The family hires a post-natal care worker (Ah-ma) for the night, just to free the mother for some precious, uninterrupted rest. When a newborn encounters the epidemic of Covid-19, the highest level of defence is adopted. Even though she is not primarily responsible for the baby, Ris becomes the “frontline”.

每日用酒精和漂白水裡外消毒兩次是基本,特別是屋内大小開關,每一個角落都要嚴陣以待。但因爲女兒是第一胎,太太還不放心,要求Ris用滾水再抹一次。燙得不行,Ris想改用溫水,太太發現後勒令一定要滾水。於是,儘管戴著手套,Ris的雙手還是被燙得處處傷痕,結下黑色的疤。雖然明白僱主的擔心,Ris還是有點生氣:「也太挑剔了吧!」

Disinfecting the house inside out twice a day is just the basic, especially for every switch and corner. But that’s not enough. Since the daughter is her first baby, the female employer still worries and requires Ris to clean using boiling water. Ris once tried to use warm water instead but was immediately stopped doing so. As a result, even with gloves on, Ris’s both hands are scalded with black scars. Understanding the employer’s concern though, Ris is still annoyed: ‘It’s too fussy!’

照舊外出買菜,但太太叮囑不能去街市,只能去離家步行五分鐘的超級市場。而她又想食材新鮮,讓Ris哭笑不得。疫情下,太太特別要求吃得健康和均衡,光是安排餐單就讓Ris有夠頭疼,準備一日三餐成了清潔以外最累人的工作。

As usual, Ris needs to buy food for cooking, but her female employer asks her not to go to the market, but to the supermarket five minutes’ walk away from home. Meanwhile, she wants fresh ingredients which you can’t always buy from the supermarket. Under the epidemic, the employer emphasizes healthy and balanced diet. Ris finds it difficult not only to design the menus, but also to prepare the meals. This has become the most tiring work despite cleaning.

除了有時會去山頂散步,兩位僱主現在基本上都24小時在家,Ris直言:「整個房子都是壓力。」一重是來自調整清潔工作的日程。以前她有自己的節奏,客廳、睡房、廚房逐個來,很快就能完成;現在工作量大了,男僱主又喜歡在飯廳工作,頻繁開會,Ris只能留待他處理完工事才做清潔。第二重則來自僱主的情緒。Ris的男僱主從事金融行業,最近市道不景氣,「你從他的臉色就看得出來。」所以她時刻保持警惕,生怕做錯了點什麽惹來責怪。因此就算晚上完成了一天的工作,Ris也不敢休息,總要找些事情來做。她無奈地笑説,只有每天出去買菜才算得上休息。

Except for occasional walk at the peak, both employers now stay at home for almost the whole day. ‘The stress is all over the house.’ Ris said. The pressure, most directly, comes from the need to reschedule the domestic work. Before, she has her own steps: living room, bedrooms, kitchen, one by one, and it’s fast. But now, in addition to heavier workload, the male employer usually works and has meetings in the dining room, so Ris has to wait until he finishes work. Another pressure stems from the employer’s emotions. Ris’s employer works in the financial field where business is down. ‘You can tell from his face.’ So Ris has to be alert all the time to avoid anything wrong. Even if she has finished all the work, she will still find some work to do just to save herself from being blamed on. She said sadly that she can only rest while going out for groceries.

不過,Ris說自己已經很幸運:僱主有能力給她提供足夠的防疫物資,也肯讓她放假;就算僱主在家工作,她還是有自己的房間,廚房也算是她的小天地。聽到不少姊妹要自己買口罩、幾個月沒有假放(按:勞工處早前呼籲外傭休息日留在家中),她更擔心疫情下其他移工姊妹的工作和生活。

Nevertheless, Ris still feels she is lucky enough to get enough masks and sanitizers from the employer, and can still take her day offs. Even though both employers are working at home, she still has her own room and almost her own space in the kitchen. Knowing many sisters have to buy masks herself or haven’t taken their day offs for months (Note: the Labour Department recently encourages foreign domestic workers to stay at home during their rest days), she is worried about the working condition and life of other migrant sisters under the epidemic.

當姐姐遇上婆婆——家務的權威

Po Po: The Authority of Housekeeping

Ana(化名)是印尼移工,剛剛結束了與上一任僱主的八年合約。八年前,僱主的兒子才兩歲,女孩還未出世;轉眼間,女孩已讀二年班,不再需要她帶著。但Ana還是很想念他們,特別是女孩,「肥嘟嘟好似我啊」。換了新僱主,Ana還和他們聯繫,不過現在疫情緊張,所以不敢上門探訪。

Ana (alias) is an Indonesian migrant worker who has just finished her 8-year contract with her previous employer. 8 years ago, her employer’s son was only 2 years old and the daughter was not even born. Now, the daughter is attending the second year of the primary school and she no longer needs a helper. Ana still misses them, especially the girl. ‘She is baby, fat just like me.’ Having a new employer, Ana still contacts them, but she hasn’t visited them for a while since the outbreak of Covid-19.

來到現任僱主家裡照顧婆婆,難免要一段磨合期。婆婆自有一套打理家務的經驗,常常要求Ana跟從。家住彩虹,Ana自然到樓下街市買菜;但婆婆卻總讓她去深水埗,因爲那裡的菜更便宜。疫情之下,每天坐巴士或地鐵買菜,受感染的風險很大,但Ana也沒辦法,只得一個禮拜去一次,不然婆婆會說她不懂省錢。以前婆婆每個禮拜都出去喝茶,現在也不出門,和Ana的摩擦更多。廚房更是「重地」:每次Ana在廚房煮菜,婆婆都進來「指點」。打掃完在客廳休息一下,婆婆又過來罵她偷懶,讓她無所適從。

It takes some time to accommodate each other when Ana starts to take care of the grandma (po po) in this current family. Grandma has her own way of housekeeping and always asks Ana to follow. For example, living in Choi Hung, Ana obviously will do grocery shopping in the market downstairs. However, grandma asks her to go to Shum Shui Po because the groceries are cheaper there. Under the epidemic, travelling frequently by bus or MTR will increase the risk of being infected, but Ana has no choice but to go there once a week, otherwise grandma will blame her for wasting money. Grandma used to go for dim sum (yum cha) once a week, but now she always stays at home because of Covid-19. More conflicts arise. The kitchen even becomes the “battlefield”: Grandma will come in and give order whenever Ana is preparing the meals. Sometimes when Ana takes a break in the living room after cleaning, grandma will blame her for slacking off. It is hard for Ana to get along with her.

爲了增强防疫,Ana現在每天進行兩次家居消毒,漂白水都把手泡爛了。平常的照顧工作一樣辛苦:每天晚上先給婆婆按摩,再等她看完電視,Ana常常要等到晚上12點才能休息。除了照顧婆婆,由於Ana的僱主三兄弟住在隔壁,每個禮拜六還要為這三個大家庭煮晚飯,直到凌晨兩點才能睡。「唔夠休息、唔夠訓啊,身體成日唔舒服,宜家又有virus(病毒)……」照顧工作繁重,身體不堪重任恐怕也是不少移工疫情下的隱憂。

To better prevent the epidemic, Ana disinfects the flat twice a day. The bleach has cracked her skin of both hands. The routine caring work is also heavy. After doing massage for grandma and waiting her to finish watching TV, Ana can only rest at mid-night. Besides taking care of grandma, as Ana’ employer and his two brothers live next door, she also needs to cook for the three big families every Saturday night and can only sleep at 2:00 a.m. ‘I don’t have enough rest or sleep, so I easily feel ill. And the virus is out there…’ Poor health due to the heavy workload becomes a concern of most migrant domestic workers under the epidemic.

Hands of Ana

Ana拍下自己的雙手 Ana took a photo of her hands

多一個「女兒」

Another Daughter

Nina(化名)從僱主的女兒一出世便照顧她到現在,都已經四年半了。現在學校和興趣班都停課,Nina在家中陪著女孩。不過,因爲小朋友在家,清潔的時候要格外小心,不能讓她吸入消毒水或漂白水的氣味,所以通常會等她睡覺或家人帶她上街時才消毒。有時一家人會去爬山,不過大多時間夫婦兩人都在家工作, Nina的工作也多了:以前只需要準備早晚兩餐,現在三餐要備齊。但現在因爲不用等僱主下班回家,晚上早開飯,Nina可以早點休息。

It has been four and a half years since the daughter of Nina’s (alias) employer was born. As schools and interest classes are suspended now, Nina accompanies the girl at home. However, she needs to be more careful while cleaning to prevent the child taking in the smell of alcohol and bleach, so she usually disinfects the flat only when the girl is sleeping or taken out by her parents. The family will go hiking sometimes, but for most of the time, the couple work at home, which increases Nina’s workload. While she only needs to prepare breakfast and dinner before, she now has to cook for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meanwhile, since she doesn’t need to wait for her employer from work, dinner starts earlier, she can also take an earlier rest.

我們讓Nina傳一張代表自己工作的照片。她傳來自己的「床」——一張床褥。這是她自己的房間,但裡面擺滿雜物。

We asked Nina to send us a photo that can show her work. She sent us her “bed”, which is a mattress only. Although this is her own room, it is filled with boxes and sundry items.

上個月,因爲僱主擔心口罩供應不足,沒有給Nina準備口罩,因此也不讓她放假。於是Nina托在印尼的丈夫寄了些口罩,才向僱主爭取到如常放假。同時,Ana和Nina同屬的印尼移民工工會(Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Union, IMWU)也張羅了不少口罩,派給不獲僱主提供口罩的移工和本地基層清潔工、保安、老人家。

Last month, due to the concern of mask shortage, Nina’s employers did not prepare masks for her, nor did they allow her to take a day off. She had to ask her husband in Indonesia to send her some masks. Since then, she was finally allowed to have her holidays. At that time, Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Union (IMWU), where Ana and Nina are both members, also started to collect masks and distribute them to migrant workers who do not get from their employers, as well as local grassroots cleaners, safety guards and the elderly.

談起她照顧的小女孩,口罩下的Nina露出歡顔。女孩有什麽吃的都要分Nina一個,家人帶她去吃糖水,她總嚷嚷「俾姐姐」。Nina有兩個女兒,分別是10歲和13歲,每當她在房間和女兒視訊,小女孩就一臉嫉妒的樣子,但自己的兩個女兒就很喜歡這個「小妹妹」。想起當初她剛出世,太太教Nina拍嗝,因爲印尼沒有這個做法,她嚇得要死,生怕把嬰兒弄傷。而八年前,Nina最小的女兒也才一歲,還沒照顧多久就來了香港。可能是因為這樣,Nina提起僱主的女兒時總說:「好似湊緊自己個女。」

Speaking of her employer’s daughter, Nina expressed her excitement even with her mask on. The girl will share all her food and snacks with Nina. When the family takes her out for dessert (Tong Shui), she always asks to reserve one for jeje (Note: Jeje is a Cantonese term used by Hong Kong family to refer to migrant domestic workers). Nina has two daughters, one is now 13 years old and the other is 10. Every time when she has a video call with her daughters, the girl seems jealous, but her two daughters like this “little sister” very much. Nina recalls the time when the girl was born, the female employer taught her to pat on the baby’s back to help her burp. But as there is no such practice in Indonesia, Nina was nervous and worried that she would hurt the baby. In fact, Nina’s younger daughter only turned one when she came to Hong Kong eight years ago. She had not even looked after her for long. Perhaps that’s why when she mentioned her employer’s daughter, she always said, ‘just like taking care of my daughter.’

同時轉載於:
also published on:

流傘 Lausan: https://tinyurl.com/uw4lc3o
獨立媒體 inmediahk: https://tinyurl.com/qlw4wcv

關於「自治八樓」