Macau | Gov't yet to invite migrant workers associations to discuss childbirth fees increase

Representatives from local migrant workers associations told MNA they are still waiting to be invited by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture to discuss a recent proposal to increase childbirth rates increase for non-resident workers and tourists

Macau (MNA) – Representatives from local migrant workers associations told Macau News Agency (MNA) that the recently announced increase in childbirth fees is blatant discrimination towards foreign female workers in Macau, adding that their organisations had yet to be invited to meet with authorities to discuss the issue.

At the end of February, the Health Bureau announced that non-resident parents would pay nine times the current price for delivery at the public hospital, with different prices defined for workers and visitors.

The change was justified as a way of reducing the number of non-resident pregnant women seeking the services of the local public hospital Conde de São Januário, which was said to be giving added pressure to its human resources capacity.

“[The Macau] Government just wants our labour but not our human right to have baby. Foreign workers contribute a lot to the Macau economy and community, but we are also human and we have needs,” the President of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union told MNA.

The same position was shared by Eliana Calderon, President of the Macau Child Development Association, who told MNA that the measures impact and put more pressure on migrant workers by forcing them to return to their home countries to give birth.

“These measures can even put their lives at risk because I’ve heard it could lead to more abortions being undertaken. It will affect the labour force ofMacau,” Ms. Calderon said.

Ms. Calderon also added her own house helper was pregnant and would have to return to the Philippines to give birth.

“You cannot have a life in Macau on MOP5,000 – I help her with extra costs, such as medical,” she added.

This week Alexis Tam, the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, remarked that the Health Bureau should have consulted migrant workers associations and vowed to meet members from at least one Filipino and one Indonesian association, possibly next week.

Both migrant workers associations representatives told MNA that they had yet to be invited by the government to discuss and present their opinions on the issue.

As at the end of 2017, there were 179,456 non-resident workers in Macau, of whom Filipino and Indonesian workers represented almost 30 per cent.