Thursday, July 07, 2011

Curb abuses on Pinay DH, migrants rights group tells Aquino

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 7, 2011) - A Filipino migrants’ rights group alliance in the Middle East said to press for the US$400 per month minimum wage for Filipino domestic workers is good, but it is totally wrong to conceive that the minimum wage could curb the rampant abuses and maltreatment victimizing thousands of deployed OFW-domestic workers in Saudi Arabia.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator said US$400 minimum salary required by the DoLE-POEA, among other requirements, is not new.

“The minimum wage requirement is not new and was a part of the reform package for Household Service Workers (HSWs) implemented in December 2006 during the time of former President and now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who dubbed our OFW-DHs as ‘Super Maids,” Monterona said.

Monterona said though it has been a requirement since 2006, “our OFW-DHs minimum wage had not been followed by most of the employers in the middle east,” he added.

He said most of the cases, averaging 7 to 10 daily, Migrante chapters are handling were cases involving Filipino domestic workers who complained of abuses and labor malpractices by their employers.

“One of the often cited reasons why OFW-DHs run away from their employer is that they were not paid as per their signed contract stipulating a minimum wage of US$400 per month,” Monterona revealed.

Monterona said salary downgrading and contract substitutions are rampant not only among construction and service workers but specifically among hired Filipino domestic workers.

“In every 10 OFW-DHs deployed in Saudi Arabia, 5 to 7 were victims of salary downgrading and contract substitution,” Monterona added.

On April 24-27, a meeting was held between a Philippine-Saudi joint technical committee in Manila.

A press release from the PH embassy in Riyadh dated July 2, 2011confirming that the Philippine side agreed to waive requiring the employer’s personal appearance as well as submission of a police clearance, certificate of employment, vicinity map or sketch of the employer’s residence and the names of the members of the employer’s family.

“We could not understand why the PH govt. gave up these requirements if it will provide protection and sense of security and little certainty that our deployed OFW-DH could easily be traced by PH embassy officials in case of a report that she had been abused by her employer?” Monterona averred.

Monterona said the security and safety of our OFW-DHs can’t be bargained by merely imposing a minimum wage of US$400.

“This is only a pittance compared to the numerous tasks performed by our OFW-DHs working like slaves,” Monterona added.

“Our Filipino domestic workers and the OFWs in general are unfortunate to have a government that does not really care, only providing lip service,” Monterona concluded.

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