Saturday, August 15, 2009

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Hiring a Filipino domestic helper has been painful on the pocket with the 100% increase in wages being enforced here - now it’s “payback” time for the Philippines.
Filipino maids are being paid US$400 (RM1,372), up from US$200 (RM686), following the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s decision in October 2006 to standardise the minimum salary of Filipino household workers deployed overseas.
The move drew flak from Malaysian employment agencies who described the increase as too high and unrealistic.
Even Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Victariano M. Lecaros agreed that the minimum wage set was relatively high for Malaysian employers.
He wanted his country’s domestic workers to do more to justify their high salary.
“US$400 may be cheap in Europe and North America, but that is not the case here in Malaysia. A one size-fits-all solution may not have been the best (in standardising the minimum wage worldwide),” Lecaros said in an interview.
To put right the situation, he urged Filipino domestic helpers here to do more than just simple chores like cooking and cleaning.
“For US$400, they should be able to do much more. Many of our girls are college-educated and can handle tasks like tutoring schoolchildren.
“They should also be good enough to handle specialised tasks like caring for the aged,” he said, calling on Filipino domestic workers to live up to their billing as “super maids”.
The envoy said Philippine maid agencies should also ensure that the domestic workers were well trained to handle varied tasks before despatching them here.
Employment agencies here have to sign and stamp contracts with the Philippine Embassy for every Filipino domestic worker brought in.
The contracts also state that the Filipino maid is entitled to a rest day every Sunday.
An employer, who declined to be named, said she only paid a RM400 salary for the Filipino maid she hired about 20 years ago, adding that the present rate was “not right.”
“I wouldn’t say that in terms of ability, they are that much better than Indonesian maids. The only advantage is that they speak English,” she said.
She said although she could afford to hire a Filipino maid at the present rate, she preferred to stick with her Indonesian domestic helper “who did the same chores for a much lower salary.”
Indonesian maids here are paid RM400, one-third the salary of their Filipino counterparts.
There are about 30,000 Filipinos living and working the peninsula, with an estimated 20,000 of them working as domestic helpers.
Related stories:
KUALA LUMPUR: Filipino domestic helpers are defending their high wages, saying they are “worth it” due to their strong work ethics, reliability, proficiency in English and fewer communications barriers.
A survey among Filipino maids outside the St John’s cathedral yesterday revealed that there were those who were paid up to RM1,500.
“Foreigners and expatriates usually pay us more. A Malaysian Chinese employer would pay RM1,200, while a foreigner would pay us RM1,400,” said Susana Bacalla, 46, from Luzon.
Bacalla said her RM1,400 salary was justified as she did all the housework, plus she had also served her employer faithfully for 14 years.
“I need to finance my children in the Philippines where the cost of living is high,” she said.
And there are those who are paid lower than the set US$400 (RM1,366) monthly wage, like Marilou Cardenas, 48, from Luzon who earns only RM800.
“I don’t expect my boss will give me a raise. It is malu (shy) to ask for it. Employers should understand and see how hard we work. I’ll be happy with an extra RM200,” she said.
Lina Martinez, 40, said: “My boss says we are far different from the others, as we understand each other. It justifies the high salary we get.
Marivic Delacruz, 31, from Ilocor Sur, made this observation — “not all Filipino maids should be paid the minimum US$400 as some worked harder than the others.”
“But it’s fair to pay more if the house is bigger. But some employers provide everything — shelter, food, and clothing. So, it depends on the employers,” said Delacruz, who considers herself fortunate to be paid RM1,400.
Fiona Kok, who works with an employment agency hiring Filipino domestic workers, said her business was not affected despite the US$400 minimum wage imposed.

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Wage increases for all workers are decided according to the principle of offer and demand between the workers and their sponsors

The Philippines tied the increase with a scheme to upgrade the capabilities of domestic helpers who are now required to undergo a skills assessment by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority that will issue certificates of competency to successful applicants

Philippine government and all governments alike have a responsibility to its citizens and should act accordingly in protecting their human rights. As an OFW living here in the Middle East I think this is good news that our government is doing something for the welfare of its people.

Filipino recruitment agencies should welcome such a move from our government. It is for the benefit of the domestic helper and their family, and of course it will help stabilise our economy through the remittances.

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