x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Filipinas deserve decent wage, UAE employers told

Domestic workers group says recruitment agencies should follow minimum wage set by Philippines government.

ABU DHABI // Stop trying to hire skilled Filipino domestic staff on the cheap, recruitment agencies and employers were told yesterday.

"We commit to send quality workers overseas who know English, so they need to pay for the service. If you'd like a Mercedes, you pay for the cost of a Mercedes," said Estrelita Hizon, who chairs the Coalition of Licensed Agencies for Domestic Workers.

The Philippine government is serious about implementing the US$400 [Dh1,469] monthly minimum wage for household staff, Ms Hizon said.

"The licences of agencies in the Philippines are being suspended or even cancelled because of non-compliance, so we need to let our counterpart agencies know the situation."

Meetings with recruiters and employers will take place next month in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and Ms Hizon's organisation hopes to sign an agreement with recruitment agencies in the UAE on a welfare mechanism for domestic workers.

"We need to ensure that workers' human rights are upheld according to Philippine law, of course with respect to UAE law," she said.

The Philippine overseas employment administration, which promotes and monitors overseas employment, set the minimum wage in December 2006.

But Edgelin Diaz, who works at a recruitment agency in Abu Dhabi, says most employers in the capital offer a salary of only Dh800 to a first-timer with no experience in domestic work.

Experienced babysitters, private tutors and college graduates who can cook are paid between Dh1,200 and Dh1,500.

Owners, managers and staff at recruitment agencies in the Philippines and host countries are poorly trained in handling household workers, said Lito Soriano, an adviser to Ms Hizon's coalition.

"Agencies from both sides must install a welfare section with trained staff to cater to the needs of domestic workers," Mr Soriano said.

"When I was in Dubai last year I noticed that Filipino staff in recruitment agencies often told workers not to complain a lot because their employers had paid for everything to get them here."

rruiz@thenational.ae