Filipino maids too expensive for Malaysians.

  Author Today
  Publication Today
  Date September 23, 2008
 

Standardisedminimum wage ofUS$400 drawing flak

KUALA LUMPUR - Hiring a Filipino domestic helper has become painful on the pockets of Malaysians, with a Philippine envoy even saying that the standardised minimum wage imposed by Manila may not have been the best solution, a report said yesterday.

Filipino maids are now paid US$400 ($567), up from US$200, following the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration's decision in Oct 2006 to standardise the minimum monthly salary of household workers deployed overseas.

The move drew flak from Malaysian employment agencies, which described the 100 per cent increase as too high and unrealistic, The Star reported.

Even Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Victoriano Lecaros agreed that the minimum wage set was relatively high for Malaysian employers, and he urged his country's domestic workers to go beyond cooking and cleaning to justify their salary increase, the news daily said.

'US$400 may be cheap in Europe and North America, but that is not the case here in Malaysia. A one-size-fits-all solution may not have been the best,' Mr Lecaros said, according to The Star.

'For US$400, they should be able to do much more. Many of our girls are college-educated and can handle tasks like tutoring schoolchildren,' he said.

'They should also be good enough to handle specialised tasks like caring for the aged.'

According to their contracts, Filipino maids in Malaysia are entitled to a day off every Sunday, The Star said.

An employer, who declined to be named, told The Star she only paid RM400 ($166) a month to the Filipino maid she hired about 20 years ago, adding that the present rate was 'not right'.

She said that although she could afford to hire a Filipino maid at the present rate, she preferred to stick with her Indonesian domestic helper 'who did the same chores for a much lower salary'.

'I wouldn't say that in terms of ability, they are that much better than Indonesian maids. The only advantage is that they speak English.'

Indonesian maids here are paid RM400, one-third the salary of their Filipino counterparts.

There are about 30,000 Filipinos living and working in the Malaysian peninsula, with an estimated 20,000 of them working as domestic helpers.

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