Compulsory jabs plan for helpers ‘very, very unjust’

A migrant workers advocacy group on Friday branded as “very, very unjust” the government’s plan to make it a requirement in future for foreign domestic workers to be vaccinated against Covid, and an order for all helpers to take tests in the next nine days as “unfair” and “disheartening”.

“Why, again, are domestic helpers being singled out and being blamed for the spread of Covid-19?” asked Eni Lestari, chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance.

Health Secretary Sophia Chan said the city’s hundreds of thousands of domestic workers would need to be tested before May 9, after a 39-year-old helper from the Philippines has been found to be carrying a more infectious variant of the virus.

Chan said the woman met up with other foreign domestic workers and because of the risk of further transmission, all helpers need to be tested.

Lestari said this was not the case when outbreaks were detected at gyms or restaurants, but “even one single domestic worker, if there is one who is infected, the whole community is being blamed and sacrificed… so this is very, very unacceptable.”

Lestari said the plans for mandatory vaccines for helpers was another example of unfair treatment.

“The truth is, a lot of employers also do not get vaccinated because of health, personal, or even political reasons, and therefore they do not even force their workers to be vaccinated,” she said.

“Why are domestic workers always being targeted, every time there is an outbreak? There is no scientific evidence that migrant domestic workers, when we gather or when we get together in the community, are actually causing the outbreak.”

She said there was general support for getting vaccinated within the migrant worker community, because they wish to protect themselves or they are working for elderly people or toddlers.