Hello friends and happy March!
This month has certainly come in like a lion: it has been rainy for most of the week and I have been busy with visitors, projects, and cases. My main focus right now are the statistics booklet and the new database system. I will hopefully finish up the booklet today or at the very latest, early next week. It is an important tool for the Mission to show not only how it serves migrants but also in highlighting the issues that they face. It will show areas that need to be addressed by governments and ways people can step up and serve.
The case I went to yesterday with a client looked like it might go into a trial. She was claiming for her terminal payment--she worked for her employers for four years and they decided not to renew her contract. They claimed it was because she had disrespected the grandmother. If she was so disrespectful, why did they renew her contract after she finished the first? My suspicion is that they did not want to sign another contract with her so that they would not have to pay a long service payment--this happens a lot. So they create some reason why they did not renew the contract.
Anyway, the employer had not shown up for the Labour Relations Division conciliation so she filed at the Labour Tribunal. She had a strong case. But when we sat in the court, the presiding officer asked them to try again to conciliate and come to an agreement so they would not have to go to trial. The employer, employer's mother, the client, and me all went down to an office with a conciliation officer to try again. The employer offered to pay her $1800. Her claims were around $9000. I had to pinch my lips together not to laugh--what a low ball negotiation! So the client said she would be willing to take half, around $4500. The employer did not agree, so we went back up to the court room.
The presiding officer was not happy with the result. She basically bullied both my client and the employer into a settlement of one month's wages, $3580. I was a bit angry with her for not proceeding with the trial, but my client had agreed to it, and if she can live with that settlement then so can I. I just wish she had been able to get what she was entitled to, and it's sad when justice is abandoned for convenience.
So, I have an important announcement regarding my return date. During David's visit he and I talked at length about my work here, what I'm doing, General Convention, and my brother's wedding at the end of May. I will be attending General Convention this summer, July 5-12, speaking about the YASC program and promoting it. My brother is getting married at the end of May and I had already been cleared to return home to participate in it. Since I would be returning home early anyway for GC, we just decided that I would go home for good on May 14th. In effect I am leaving my post about two months early.. but this saves me time and jet-lag, not to mention the costly flights around the world.
In my last two and a half months here I will be focusing on my projects with the Mission and the ARMN and putting together an informative booklet for the next YASCer. An on-site guide would be quite helpful, especially in a busy place like Hong Kong. I am so grateful for all of the support I have received during my time, both here and back home. Please keep me in your prayers during my last few months here as I continue my projects and supporting the Mission.
Grace and Peace,