Labor chief slams critics on maids’ pay

Published by rudy Date posted on February 16, 2007

The chief of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration would rather quit than chicken out of imposing a higher pay for Filipino maids employed abroad.

Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz, through her agency’s legal chief, made known her stand amid growing pressures from militant groups that are opposed to her new policy.

Grace Venus, chief of POEA’s legal department, said Baldoz remains unfazed by mounting protest rallies and prayer vigils being staged by groups, such as the Migrante and Gabriela Women, overseas maids and recruitment agencies right in front of the Department of Labor and Employment building in Manila.

The POEA recently raised the minimum pay for maids from $200 to $400 a month, in a move that her critics said would dampen demand for Filipino domestic helpers.

“Even if people ask for my head, I want the policy implemented,” Baldoz was quoted by Venus as saying.

She said POEA is urging the recruitment agencies to look for professional employers for maids overseas and give the new $400 salary policy a chance.

She said POEA is seeking the cooperation of all agencies to take advantage of their track record and experience in looking for employers who could give the Filipino maids better terms of employment.

“Agencies must team up with POEA. At least, the government is doing something to stop the abuses committed among our domestic helpers. Our women leave their families just to earn $200 or less than P10,000 a month. They were turned into slaves by their foreign employers, especially in the Middle East countries,” she told Standard Today.

She said the new salary rate would prevent the commission of abuses and unfair labor practices. “A foreign employer doesn’t deserve to hire a maid if he/she can’t afford to pay a monthly salary of $400.” –Rio N. Araja, Manila Standard

She said her office is swamped with daily complaints of violation of work contracts, inhumane living condition, unpaid salaries and physical abuses. “We are bombarded with complaints. What can we do if the harm is done already? That’s why POEA came up with a pro-active measure.”

Saying the less educated employers are the most common abusers in Kuwaiti, Qatar, and other countries in the Middle East, she reiterated her call to give the policy a chance. She admitted that there would a reduction in the number of the deployment of maids overseas and earnings recruitment agencies. “This is just transitory.” –Rio N. Araja, Manila Standard

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