Philippine group to stop sending maids to Singapore

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Philippine group to stop sending maids to Singapore

Postby gumiho » Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:27 pm

Janice Heng

The Straits Times

Publication Date : 23-07-2013



An association of recruitment agencies in the Philippines is temporarily barring its members from sending domestic workers to Singapore, starting from September 2.

It wants to convince agencies in Singapore to stop collecting placement fees from maids.

Association of Licensed Recruitment Agencies to Singapore (Alras) president Lucy Sermonia announced the move in a statement to media in the Philippines last Saturday.

It followed the association's general assembly last Friday, attended by 120 of its 130 members.

The Philippine government's policy is that employers, not the maids, should pay the placement fees - which, in Singapore, average S$2,000 (US$1,580) or four months of their salary.

The Philippine Embassy in Singapore has stepped up enforcement in the last year, blacklisting agencies that flout the rules.

But Philippine labour attache Vicente Cabe told The Straits Times that the embassy is not involved in the upcoming ban and has not heard of it.

The Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) has not been officially notified of the ban, said president K. Jayaprema.

But she said the move was likely to have limited impact, as the Philippine association has control over only its member agencies. "There are non-members which will still continue to deploy maids here."

She added that agencies can still hire maids who arrive on their own and those from other countries. About 70,000 of the 209,600 maids in Singapore are from the Philippines.

Orange Employment Agency owner Shirley Ng is one of those who will be hit - even though her agency does not charge placement fees. The two Philippine agencies she works with are Alras members.

"Why should you penalise those who are playing by the rules?" she said.

"You're pushing people to use illegal means instead."

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Re: Philippine group to stop sending maids to Singapore

Postby gumiho » Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:28 pm

A moratorium has been declared on sending Filipina domestic helpers to Singapore starting 2 September 2013. This news was carried by Channel NewsAsia (CNA) and the Straits Times (23 July 2013).

CNA said 150 maid agencies in the Philippines, members of a trade association, want employers in Singapore to bear more of the cost of employing domestic workers, and that together, they account for 70 – 80 percent of such Filipino workers here. The news channel said that currently placement fees average US$1,500, or S$1,900, equivalent to about four months’ salary.

Speaking in Manila, Lucy Sermonia, president of the Association of Licensed Recruitment Agencies to Singapore, says: ”Most of them still collect four to six months’ placement fee or salary deduction from each domestic helper. This has been prohibited under Philippine law since 2007. Last year we went to Singapore on a goodwill mission to talk to Singapore placement agencies. 50% agreed but there are still some that are not compliant and that’s what we want to influence with this moratorium.”

John Gee, immediate past president of TWC2, comments: “I think that one factor in this is that workers who return to the Philippines can sue agencies that place them in employment in conditions that are inferior to the standards they are meant to have: I’m not sure whether this means the actual standards promised, or the standards stipulated by [Filipino law]. There have been successful law suits that have forced agencies to make big payouts, so they now have a strong incentive not to collude with overseas agencies in cheating workers of promised salaries or days off.”

Last year, the Philippines deployed over 14,000 domestic workers to Singapore, reported CNA. There are said to be over 70,000 Filipina maids currently in Singapore out of a total of around 209,000.

The Straits Times’ story appears to play down the significance of this move. Reporting that an (unnamed) association is “temporarily barring” its members from sending workers to Singapore, it quoted K Jayaprema, president of the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) as saying that the move would only have “limited impact” because

the Philippine association has control over only its member agencies. “There are non-members which will still continue to deploy maids here.”

The newspaper also quoted Labour Attache Vincent Cabe from the Philippines embassy here saying that the embassy is not involved in the ban.

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Philippine Recruiters Ban Sending Domestic Helpers to Singap

Postby gumiho » Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:30 pm

MANILA — A group of Philippine international job recruiters this week stopped sending Filipino domestic helpers to Singapore, part of a campaign to end the collection of placement fees from migrant workers.

Such fees, banned by Philippine authorities but still continuing, can add up to the equivalent of eight months of a household worker’s salary.


Reuters
A building being constructed in metro Manila on Aug. 29. While the Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, nearly one-tenth of its citizens live and work overseas.“This moratorium will stay until we get the full cooperation of all the local recruiters as well as the employment agencies in Singapore,” Lucy Sermonia, president of the Association of Licensed Recruitment Agencies to Singapore, or ALRAS, told The Wall Street Journal.

There are more than 150 recruitment agencies in the Philippines sending household helpers to Singapore, while some 300 Singapore employment agencies handle Filipino workers.

Regulations of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, or POEA, the government agency that tracks and oversees the deployment of Filipino workers abroad, has prohibited the collection of placement fees from household service workers since 2007. Those fees, including travel and training costs, should be shouldered by employers.

POEA records show that 136,695 Filipino workers traveled to take up employment to Singapore in 2012, with 15,759 of them meant to work as household help.

Ms. Sermonia said they met with their Singapore counterparts in September last year to seek an end of the practice, which has left maids working without getting paid for a long period. The agreement last year was that the practice will end once those in the pipeline are processed, but even after that the collection of fees continued, she said.

“Employers just give household service workers SGD20 as allowance. They aren’t paid for up to eight months,” she said.

K. Jayaprema, president of the Association of Employment Agencies in Singapore, said he wasn’t aware of the Philippine group’s move.

Ms. Sermonia said Filipino household service workers without experience are paid $409 a month, while those with experience get $472. She said placement fees collected from them run to the equivalent of two to eight months of salary and are deducted every month.

The minimum monthly salary of maids in Singapore is six times the $67 minimum salary of household help in Manila.

ALRAS hopes its moratorium will have the positive results as similar action against recruiters deploying household help to Hong Kong.

A moratorium on the deployment of maids to the Chinese territory was declared by the Society of Hong Kong Accredited Recruiters of the Philippines in late January. It was lifted in late March after Hong Kong employers agreed to shoulder the placement fees.

One-tenth of the Philippines’ nearly 100 million citizens live and work overseas, sending home every year billions of dollars to support families. Last year, overseas Filipino workers remittances reached $21.39 billion, underpinning domestic consumption and providing support for the Philippine peso.

The plight of many of the Philippines’ overseas workers includes abuses of migrant workers by Philippine officials. The Philippine Senate is now hearing allegations that several female workers in the Middle East have been abused by Philippine labor officials there. But thousands of Filipinos continue to line up at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the state agency that handles migrant workers, every day to find job opportunities abroad.

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Re: Philippine group to stop sending maids to Singapore

Postby chixchix » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:48 pm

imagine paying more than $2000 for Phillipinas. wow..i would rather stay without a maid.. if the maid you get is good ok, what if she turns out to be a headache ? What happens to all the money ?

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Re: Philippine group to stop sending maids to Singapore

Postby Mawar » Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:44 pm

To look at the bright side, it would force us to be more resourceful and less reliant on FDW. No one should hold us random with threats and restrictions.

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