Philippines: rallies against English requirement for domestic helpers

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Jan 17 13:39:59 UTC 2007

More rallies vs hiring policy for Pinoy DH
01/16/2007 | 03:57 PM

More protest actions are planned against the new guidelines the Department
of Labor and Employment issued to govern the hiring of Filipino domestic
helpers and caregivers in households for overseas jobs. A group of
recruitment agencies and workers led by the Federated Association of
Manpower Exporters (FAME) said on Tuesday that the demonstrations against
the new hiring policy would be carried out even after the Philippine
Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) had deferred its implementation
to March 1. The group managed to gather at least 8,000 workers, most of
them domestic helpers applying for overseas jobs, in a protest rally on
Monday at the Liwasang Bonifacio and in front of the DOLE offices in
Intramuros, Manila.

Recruiters and workers are strongly opposing the governments guidelines
that raised the minimum wage for domestic helpers to $400, from $200. The
hiring age was likewise raised 25 years old, from 21. Under the new
guidelines, prospective domestic workers are required to get a National
Certificate for Household Service Workers from the Tesda and an additional
Language and Culture Certificate of Competence from the OWWA. Those with
two years experience, while not required to undergo the Tesda training,
are still mandated to get the certificates after undergoing an assessment.
The guidelines also include a similar provision for the OWWA certificate.

The groups particularly objected to the requirement for domestic helpers
to undergo language proficiency training prior to deployment. This is an
additional financial expense for our poor domestic helpers. And we cannot
afford too much expenses," Eduardo Mahiya, president of FAME, said. In an
interview, Labor Secretary Arturo Brion said the new hiring policy was
drawn up for the benefit and protection of Filipino domestic helpers. The
protest actions against the new guidelines, Brion said, was actually
instigated by recruitment agencies because of the provision prohibiting
the collection of placement fees on Filipino domestic helpers, but they
will have to undergo a 27-day skills training and attend a
country-specific language and culture orientation.

Brion sought to allay fears of some quarters that the new policy would
result in a substantial reduction in the hiring of Filipino domestic
helpers because of the higher salary rate. Kung mayroon man po na
masasarhan ng trabaho para sa ating mga kababayan ay magbubukas naman tayo
ng bagong labor market (If our countrymen will be deprived of work in
another country, we will open a new labor market)," he assured. Dolores
Balladares, chairman of the militant United Filipinos in Hong Kong
(Unifil-Migrante-HK) earlier said the $400 minimum monthly wage for
domestic workers and the no placement fee" provision are but sugar
coatings" to cover the real intent of the new scheme.

If the Philippine government cannot even effectively address the problem
of recruitment agencies piling dubious charges on top of the legal
placement fee, how can it even monitor the implementation of its minimum
wage requirement which, in the first place, is instituted by the host
government?" she asked. Hong Kong is home to about 118,000 domestic
helpers. The territory is one of the main destinations for Filipino,
mostly women, household helpers. - GMANews.TV


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