Hong Kong immigration officers arrest 15 suspected illegal labourers from mainland China

Hong Kong immigration officers have rounded up 15 suspected illegal labourers from mainland China who were allegedly paid up to double the city’s minimum wage of HK$40 (US$5) per hour to work as cleaners and dishwashers.

Deputy Commander Luk Pui-yin of the Immigration Department’s task force said four of the group arrested during a raid on a Yau Ma Tei flat on Wednesday were identified as illegal immigrants, while the others entered the city as visitors and stayed beyond the permitted time.

Luk said initial investigations revealed that one of them had lived in the city illegally for 6½ years.

She said the workers – four men and 11 women – were detained during a daybreak raid on a flat in Yau Ma Tei that investigators had suspected was being used as a dormitory for illegal labourers.

Officers seized 17 bogus Hong Kong identity cards that were described by Luk as of “poor quality” and “easily distinguishable” from real ones.

“We believe the suspected illegal workers used such fake identity cards to find jobs in Hong Kong,” she said.

Immigration officers seized fake Hong Kong identity cards from the arrestees. Photo: Eugene Lee

Luk said the investigation showed they were each paid between HK$50 and HK$80 per hour for various illegal jobs such as cleaners, dishwashers and odd-job workers.

Their salaries were higher than the city’s minimum wage, which was raised to HK$40 an hour on May 1 last year.

According to the Immigration Department, the raided flat on Reclamation Street was about 500 sq ft in size and subdivided into four rooms which housed one or two bunk beds each.

“Our investigation indicated that the arrestees rented subdivided flats in the premises that was allegedly used as a dormitory for illegal workers,” the deputy commander said.

Luk stressed that immigration authorities were conducting investigations into those responsible for hiring the suspects, the person overseeing the flat and the potential involvement of a syndicate providing “one-stop services” to them. Her team did not rule out further arrests.

She added that such operations would continue to be carried out to safeguard local workers’ interests and maintain stability in the local job market.

Luk warned that illegal workers faced punishment of up to two years in jail and a HK$50,000 fine under the Immigration Ordinance.

Possessing or using a forged Hong Kong identity card carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a HK$100,000 fine.

Those found to be employing illegal workers face a maximum fine of HK$500,000 and up to 10 years in jail.



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