By Nina Muslim, Staff Reporter
(gulfnews.com) Dubai: Filipina housemaids here and elsewhere may become a rarity under a Philippine government directive to reduce the number of its women working as domestic helpers overseas, in a bid to reduce labour problems.
A majority of labour problems the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) in Dubai handle, involve housemaids who have run away because of unpaid salary, physical abuse, overwork and contractual disputes.
The office is currently in the process of repatriating 30 women, all runaway maids, and 35 more in the future, under a government-sponsored mass repatriation programme.
Antonio Curameng, Philippine Consul General, told Gulf News that they were trying to discourage Filipinas from going abroad to work as domestic helpers as a protective measure."Domestic helpers are the most vulnerable to exploitation," he said.
"People are taking advantage of Filipinos' good nature and hard work. If they know how to value the Filipinos, then [the employers] would not mistreat them," he added. He said despite their efforts, the rate of labour complaints received at the POLO office has remained constant.
One of the problems related to domestic workers is some sponsors' attempts to cut corners by recruiting Filipinos to do professional and skilled jobs, but giving them a domestic worker's visa instead. Domestic worker's visa, plus expenses and fees, costs Dh2,000, about Dh1,500 less than a regular employment visa.
"Five in the [mass repatriation] batch suffer from substituted contracts, which is why they ran away," Curameng said.
The government is providing alternatives for the women, through the Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration (OWWA), by giving them skills-training to help them secure professional jobs and loans to help them start a business.
The move is the latest in a series of initiatives set by the Philippine government to protect its nationals who seek employment as domestic workers.
On April 1, the UAE and the Philippines agreed to a unified contract for domestic workers, including raising the minimum wage from $200 (Dh734) to $400 (Dh1,468).
Have your say
Do you agree with the new Philippine directive? Do you think it will help reduce labour problems or will only force desperate Filipinas to seek the help of unscrupulous employers?
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