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Hok Bun KU & Kam Wah CHAN Department of Applied Social Sciences The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Racism and Social Inequality: Work and Employment.

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Presentation on theme: "Hok Bun KU & Kam Wah CHAN Department of Applied Social Sciences The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Racism and Social Inequality: Work and Employment."— Presentation transcript:

1 Hok Bun KU & Kam Wah CHAN Department of Applied Social Sciences The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Racism and Social Inequality: Work and Employment of South Asian Ethnic Minority in Hong Kong

2 Introduction According to the 2001 official population census, ethnic minorities constituted 5.1 per cent of the Hong Kong population with a total of 343,950. Among them, the population of South and Southeast Asians, including Pakistanis, Indians, Nepalese, Filipinos, Indonesians and Thais, was 249,516 (Census and Statistics Department, 2002).

3 Discrimination against South Asian people is largely unarticulated and undocumented in Hong Kong. Making people invisible is one way of marginalizing and socially excluding them. In 2002 we started a pilot study about the life situation of Pakistanis in Hong Kong and then in 2004 funded by the CERG Grant we continued another bigger project titled “ Ethnicity and Social Exclusion – A Study on the Life Situation of South Asian Ethnic Minority in Hong Kong ”

4 It aims to understand the situation of South Asian ethnic minority groups through their hidden voices and to see what social forces contribute to the social exclusion of ethnic minority groups, as well as to understand how their racial and ethnic identities make their position vulnerable in areas such as education, employment, housing, health and social services. We also hope to make the finding reach to the policy makers and helps them reformulate the law to outlaw racial discrimination and design services more favorable to the ethnic minority. The paper focuses on the employment issues concerning South Asian ethnic minority groups in Hong Kong, namely the Filipinos, Indians, Nepalese and Pakistanis.

5 Race/Ethnicity and Social Exclusion in Hong Kong In recent years, social exclusion has been one of the important themes in policy debates in Western societies It has also replaced the ‘ underclass ’ in discussions about the poor in post-industrial society. ‘ Social exclusion ’ means much more than poverty because many exclusions and inequalities are embedded in everyday social interactions, social practices and social discourse.

6 It involves not just the lack of material resources but also a multi-dimensional process in which various forms of exclusion are combined: participation in decision making and the political process, access to employment and material resources, and integration into common cultural processes. There is a close relation between ‘ ethnicity ’ and ‘ social exclusion ’.

7 Numerous surveys by academics, the press, and other NGOs provide incontrovertible evidence that ‘ racist attitudes lie very deep ’ and racial discrimination is a serious problem in Hong Kong We do hope via this paper, South Asian ethnic minorities ’ voices can be heard by the government and the public

8 Employment Situation of South Asian Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong Table 6: Employment Status ETHNIC ORIGIN FilipinoIndianNepalesePakistaniTotal EMPLOYMENTEmployer00011 STATUS(0.0) (2.0)(0.5) Self-employed13149 (2.0)(6.0)(2.0)(8.0)(4.5) Full-time employed (58.0)(56.0)(74.0)(50.0)(59.5)

9 Part-time employed (18.0)(16.0)(8.0) (12.5) Unemployed (8.0)(10.0)(16.0)(18.0)(13.0) Housewife / Homemaker(14.0)(10.0)(0.0)(4.0)(7.0) Retired01056 (0.0)(2.0)(0.0)(10.0)(3.0) Total (100.0)

10 Racial Labor Market Segmentation

11 Table 7: Occupation and Ethnic Origin ETHNIC ORIGIN FilipinoIndianNepales e PakistaniTotal OCCUPATION Managers and Administrators (10.0)(4.3)(6.3)(4.3)(6.3) Professionals22318 (4.0)(4.3)(6.3)(2.2)(4.2) Associate Professionals (4.0)(13.0)(6.3)(10.9)(8.4) Clerks

12 (6.0)(21.7)(2.1)(21.7)(12.6) Service workers and shop sales workers(66.0)(19.6)(10.4)(19.6)(29.5) Plant and machine01146 operators and assemblers(0.0)(2.2)(2.1)(8.7)(3.2) Elementary Occupations (10.0)(34.8)(66.7)(32.6)(35.8) Total (100.0)

13 Table 8: Working hours per week Frequency Percent 35 hours or less – – – – – – – – – – hours or more10.7 Total

14 Table 9: Average monthly income Frequency PercentCumulative Percentage 3,999 or below85.2 4,000 – 5, ,000 – 7, ,000 – 9, ,000 – 14, ,000 – 19, ,000 – 24, ,000 – 29, ,000 – 34, ,000 – 39, ,000 or above Total

15 Table 10 Means of getting current job Frequency Percent Receive help from family members, relatives and friends Read newspapers/magazines/internet advertisements Look for advertisements in streets and shops94.7 Receive help from social workers84.2 Through the Labour Department42.1 Through private job referral agency73.7 Through ethnic minority organization10.5 Others31.6 Note: The respondent may write more than one career chances. Total Number of Respondent = 190

16 Table 11. Difficulties in searching for a job in Hong Kong Frequency Percent Don ’ t know Cantonese/Mandarin Rejected because I am not Chinese The job advertisements are mostly written in Chinese My qualification is not recognized in Hong Kong Low educational qualifications Nobody helps in introducing jobs Cultural and/or religious differences Lack of skills Fees of job referral agency too high199.9 Don ’ t know English Age42.1 Immigration policy10.5 Other forms of discrimination10.5 Others42.1

17 Table 12: Time spent to find the current job Frequency Percent Less than a month to 2 months to 6 months to 12 months107.2 More than 12 months32.2 Total

18 Table 13. Problems at workplace in Hong Kong Frequenc y Percen t Difficult to communicate with supervisors or bosses Difficult to communicate with colleagues Cannot receive salary on time Bullied (laughed at, made fun of, humiliated, insulted) by supervisors/colleagues Conflicts involving cultural and/or religious practices Unreasonably fired because I am ethnic minority Unequal treatment21.4 Heavy workload10.7 Others32.1

19 Color Still Matters Racial Bias and Discrimination in job searching and at Workplace Unequal treatment at the workplace Unrecognized educational qualifications

20 South Asian People ’ s Narratives “ Even in the newspaper recruitment ad, the requirement is not Chinese. It is an English company. Still, if you phone them for an interview, and they come to know that you ’ re a Pakistani, your nationality, they will just not call you. They won ’ t bother. They won ’ t even bother to give you some time. They ’ ll just say, ‘ Okay, we ’ ll call you or something like that. ’ And then just finish! At this point they don ’ t even ask you if you know Cantonese or not … Concerning Hong Kong environment and the culture, they still think that Chinese will be more adapted to the kind of society. ”

21 “ Sometimes I look for jobs in Recruit. When I called them, they asked about my qualifications. After that, they asked me, ‘ Who ’ re you? Are you a Chinese? ’ I answered that my nationality is Pakistani. Then, they said, ‘ Sorry, you can ’ t. ’”

22 “ I think this is a show – the language barrier – we can call it a show. It is played in the hands of the government, non-government organizations and other firms. Whenever a South Asian who can ’ t read or write Chinese and goes to any firms to apply for jobs, straightly the first question is, “ Do you know how to read and write Chinese? ” “ Sorry. ” This is the show that everybody is using on everybody. I ’ ve seen many advertisements that state ‘ good English, better job opportunities. ’ Where are the job opportunities? … Any person who speaks English, you use the Chinese show. And you give the job to the one whom you want. To whom you want to give it, you give it! ”

23 Religion matters too … the kindergarten was affiliated with a church. The person frankly told me, ‘ We ’ re afraid that you may teach your religion to our children. ’ I said, ‘ Why will I do so? ’ [Exclaimed sadly.] Though I had kindergarten teaching experience, it ’ s in his mind that maybe I would teach them my religion. I see a lot of Christians preaching on streets. Some even came to our doorsteps and offered us books and things. We ’ ve never had these things. They ’ re doing that, fine, no problem. But why did he think I ’ d do the same? This is a barrier.

24 Conclusion A sense of exclusion is common for our respondents. racism operates subtly and constitutes inequality in work and employment among South Asian people in Hong Kong. Their life experiences in Hong Kong are shaped by discrimination, racism and differential or preferential treatment. Racial labour market segmentation is the obvious pattern in Hong Kong. While language and credential are two of the main problems the ethnic minorities faced in job search or at work, racial discrimination is another significant factor. Racial discrimination in the labour market was overwhelming, and it led to unequal treatments suffered by the ethnic minorities. Comparing to their local Chinese counterpart, the ethnic minorities received unequal/lower pay, less promotion opportunity, more workload, less job safety, higher chances of being laid off, less working benefits and are at times rejected because of cultural and/or religious practices.


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