The Visayan Forum Foundation Inc. (VFI) said it is ironic of the government to peddle Filipino maids in the Middle East and Asia, while neglecting their plight in the Philippines.
“How can you negotiate for maids abroad while here you don’t even mind them?” VFI director Cecilia Flores-Oebanda told GMANews.TV at the 2nd National Domestic Workers Summit in Quezon City.
Oebando said it’s time for members of Congress to wake up and act fast because they have been sleeping on the proposed Magna Carta for Domestic Workers.
The two day summit, which began on Thursday, aims to draft a recommendation from various labor sectors for the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) convention on domestic workers in 2010.
Should the Philippine government ratify the convention, it would be compelled to pass a law protecting domestic workers.
Oebanda said that the government ensures that Filipino household service workers overseas enjoy a minimum salary of $400 (roughly P20,000), while local maids could only ask for P800 per month under the existing Labor Code.
This is being enforced by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), which requires foreign employers and placement agencies to ensure that domestic helpers hired in the country are given the minimum pay and ample protection.
She added that while Filipino household service workers could maintain their edge abroad by acquiring new skills under the government’s “supermaids” program, local maids hand down their jobs to their children.
“It creates an inescapable cycle. It’s as if they have no choice,” Oebanda said.
With a magna carta, Oebanda said domestic work would be reclassified and maids could demand for better working conditions, pay scale and skills training.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has already vouched her support in the passage of the bill and the adoption of the ILO convention.
“You should continue to push your campaign,” Arroyo said in a written message for the summit, “You have my full support.”
Such legislation would provide Cherry (not her real name), a 15-year-old maid from Bacolod city, a better future.
“Gusto kong maging lawyer. Pero ngayon kahit ano na lang basta maitaguyod ang buhay namin (I want to be a lawyer. But I’d take on any job for now just to keep our family afloat),” she said.
According to Cherry, her younger brother Jeje (13) and elder sister Faye (17) are also working for some families in their province, Negros Occidental. With their education shouldered by their employers, Jeje receives P10 a day while Cherry and Faye get P200 a week.
Lilibeth Masamloc, president of the Samahan at Ugnayan ng Manggagawang Pantahanan sa Pilipinas, said maids should not be chained to a lifetime of domestic servitude.
As a former maid herself, Masamloc urged legislators to act quickly on the bill.
“Hindi habang buhay kami ay kasambahay. May pangarap din kami sa buhay (We are not maids forever. We do have dreams too in life),” Masamloc said.
There are 550,000 Filipinos working in the country as domestic helpers, based on the 2006 Labor Force Survey. Of this number, some 350,000 are aged 15 – 24, while 120,000 (or 1 out of 5) are children domestic helpers.
The Philippines’ Overseas Labour Office in Kuala Lumpur has issued a warning against the e-mail, which included a notice purportedly from the Malaysian Immigration De partment about its visa processing requirements. The notice was sent to “prospective applicants” informing them of a pending appointment letter from a company, which had allegedly requested for the processing of their documents.
Philippines labour attache in Kuala Lumpur Hassan Gabra Jum dain said the e-mail stated that after securing all the necessary documents, applicants would be required to pay US$670 (RM2,088) as processing fee for a visa or work permit, to be sent to a “government” office address in the capital.
PORT DICKSON: The Indonesian government’s demand for RM800 minimum wage for housemaids cannot be implemented as Malaysia does not have a minimum wage structure. Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S.Subramaniam said this was one of the main reasons why the memorandum of understanding between Malaysia and Indonesia could not be implemented.
“It is difficult to implement as Malaysia does not have a minimun wage structure. We feel that wages should be based on market forces. “This has been our policy then and now,” he told reporters after opening a motivation and career training programme for Indian youths Saturday. Subramaniam however agreed that trained Indonesia housemaids should be paid higher wages based on the skills possessed.
Malaysia and Indonesia are still discussing the wage issue at joint committee level led by the Home Ministry secretary-general.
According to a report in Sin Chew Daily yesterday, a large number of highly qualified Filipino maids from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the poorest part of the Philippines, who in the past were sent to Hongkong and Middle-Eastern countries where they were well paid, are now willing to come to Malaysia and work for less due to the global slowdown.
Confirming this to the daily, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr. S. Subramaniam said Filipinas have always been hired to work as domestic helpers in Malaysia.
And they are traditionally paid more than maids from other countries because of their language skills and because they are well trained to look after the elderly and the young. Read more »
PORT DICKSON: It is not mandatory for employers whose maids run away to pay a RM250 fine to the Immigration Department.
Its director-general Datuk Mahmood Adam said employers could always appeal if they were asked to do so.
“We will look at this on a case-by-case basis … we understand that this is sometimes beyond the employers,” he said Tuesday when closing the passing out ceremony for 281 Immigration officers.
An average of 1,000 maids run away from their employers every month. There have been reports that some agents worked in cahoots with maids, encouraging them to run away from employers after the replacement period of three months was over.
Mahmood said if employers could give legitimate reasons, they would not be penalised.
He was asked to comment on grouses from employers who not only have to part with between RM5,000 and RM7,000 for their maids but also pay a fine when their domestic helpers run away within weeks.
Admitting that the number of runaway maids was high, Mahmood said prospective employers should get their maids from agencies registered with the Immigration. Read more »
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) has brought in about 3,000 foreign maids from several countries every month to meet local needs since Indonesia froze the service to Malaysia a year ago.
Papa has recruited maids from Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines to meet the demand following the freeze which was enforced in June last year, association president Alwi Bavutty said.
Currently, he said there were about 300,000 Indonesian maids working in Malaysia.
He said most of the maids from Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines were non-Muslims as there was a demand for these maids from the Chinese community.
The Indonesian government stopped sending domestic maids to Malaysia following several incidents of abuse, besides a lack of employment perks such as a minimum wage and a weekly off-day.
Indonesia suggested that there be a minimum monthly wage of RM800 while Malaysia insisted that the amount be based on market demand, besides discussions between the employer and the maid concerned. Read more »
MANILA, Philippines—As the country marked the 15th Migrant Workers Day on Monday, a former labor undersecretary called on the incoming administration to strengthen its delivery of effective and quicker assistance to distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), many of whom have become victims of human trafficking.
“The growing number of victims of human trafficking and contract substitution throughout the world poses a major challenge to the next administration. Increasing poverty has driven many Filipinos to clutch at empty promises of bogus recruiters and human traffickers,” said Susan Ople, president of the OFW advocacy group Blas F. Ople Policy Center.
Ople noted that the overwhelming support bestowed by overseas Filipino voters on apparent president-elect Benigno Aquino Jr. came with high hopes that the labor and OFW sector would receive the priority it deserved.
“Even as we honor our modern-day heroes today, we all know that as their number rises the more difficult it is for government to reach them at a time of personal or collective crisis. The solution remains here at home, where job creation is imperative and the quality of jobs must improve,” she said.
“It would be better if employers are given options. It is not a problem allowing the maids to keep their passports but employers may have a hard time worrying about them. Employers should be granted the alternative of keeping the maids’ passports for safety purposes.”
Alwi said some employers might not want their maids to go out on their days off.
“Giving the maids a day off would be all right, but if the employers are uncomfortable with the maids going out, they should have the option of paying overtime or an allowance.”
He said allowing maids to leave their working premises would tempt more of them to abscond.
Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan felt that the new agreement between Malaysia and Indonesia would put employers at greater risk unless maids could be guaranteed to stay to the end of their contracts. Read more »
The DFA said in a statement that it would be unlawful to work as a domestic helper in both countries.
Philippine Ambassador to Beijing Francisco L. Benedicto said in a dispatch to the DFA that China’s and Mongolia’s border control and immigration authorities were stepping up their campaign to apprehend illegal workers and immigrants.
“Filipinos who are promised jobs as domestic helpers in China and Mongolia are always in danger of being arrested because foreign nationals are not allowed to work as domestic helpers in China and Mongolia,” Benedicto said. Read more »