Philippines Gives "the Last Warning" to Middle East for Violations

The Philippine reform program package ensures protection of maids include a minimum $400 monthly wage. Pinay maid at work

Filipino maid industry 'could die soon' as agencies flout rules

Dubai:The industry of supplying Filipino housemaids to the UAE is in danger of dying, an official from an association of Philippine recruitment agencies said at a tripartite meeting held in Dubai.

Commenting on the precarious situation on Saturday, the official warned that foreign placement agencies (FPAs) in the country must abide by the regulations set by the Philippines government,

The meeting was part of the goodwill mission of the Coalition of Licensed Agencies for Domestic Workers (CLADS) to the UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait to decide if the industry will continue or will be decimated by continuous violations of the rules regarding employing Filipino maids.

"We came here to urge our foreign counterparts to fully implement the law especially on the salary of the housemaids. If they will not abide by the $400 minimum wage, we will not supply housemaids here. We are serious about this and we will police our ranks," Estrelita Hizon, CLADS chairman, told Gulf News.

The Philippine reform programme package ensures protection of maids include a minimum $400(Dh1,468) monthly wage, a minimum age deployment of 23, no placement fees among others.

It was introduced late 2006 but the Philippine labour secretary began strictly implementing it in August this year.

As a result, many erring Philippine agencies have been slapped with preventive suspensions and blacklistings.

"Nowadays, it's very risky to be in this industry because POEA [Philippine Overseas Employment Agency] suspends agencies even at a hint of a violation of the rules. So we really need to follow the law from the first letter down to the last," Hizon added.

Philippine labour attaché Delmer Cruz said as per POEA figures, the UAE has posted a sharp increase in deployment of maids for the past three years, following Hong Kong and Singapore.

But since the number of runaway cases went up from 775 in 2011, averaging more than 100 new cases every month, to 725 just from January to October 2012, his office was forced to limit the job orders to 30 per agency.

He likewise held in abeyance the job orders of those agencies who have been lax on regulations or had cases of runaway maids.

In response, the almost 100 FPAs that attended the meeting signed a joint resolution to agree to strictly implement the reform package but urged their Philippine counterparts to 'forgive and forget' and raise back the number of job orders to 100 as they are already at a risk of losing their business. They pledged to form an association similar to CLADS next week to better address these issues.

"Having 30 job orders will not solve anything. Before it was 100, then it became 50, now it's 30. We are losing money now just by renewing our licence with the Ministry of Labour, with Chamber of Commerce, bank guarantees and other fees," Ahmad Hatim, Al Nasr Service Company in Sharjah, told Gulf News. Other FPAs said the reason they could not implement the reform package was that unaccredited recruitment agencies offer lower salaries for housemaids and therefore make competition tougher.

"By hook or by crook we will implement it, but the Philippine government must also clamp down on the over 200 unaccredited labour supply agencies as they are the ones causing problems," Shoukat Ali from Al Sanabil Manpower in Ajman, said.

"There are those consultancy agencies here that supply maids when in fact they do not have the license for that. Our business is affected very badly," Geraldine Quizon, Operation Manager, Bin Hadda Labour Supply & Recruitment Services, said. (http://is.gd/lWIXqV)

Gulfnews 

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