Hunt for ‘maids’ gets tougher, but why?

(Photo Credot: www.menaceman.net)

dhAs many people know, I have the greatest respect for the Philippines and Filipino people. I feel this way for a number of reasons.

Firstly, Filipinos are caring with a positive attitude. They are also generally a happy, industrious people who work hard to help not only themselves, but also their families and the country.

The Filipino mentality always seems to be to work hard to provide for their loved ones. It’s almost part of the Filipino culture back home in the Philippines, to study a course of education that would result in acquiring a job overseas, be it nursing, engineering, hotel management or an array of other courses geared up to provide training and hopefully enhance employment prospects overseas

According to The World Bank, in 2013 over 26 billion dollars was remitted back home to the Philippines, this equated to 9.8% of the countries’ GDP. Therefore finding a job abroad is not only important to the individual, but also of national importance to the Philippine economy!

So as you can imagine, Overseas Filipino Workers contribute a great deal to the country. Every dollar or equivalent remitted to the Philippines by OFW’s is then used to support their families abroad. This money is then spent in the country, further helping the economy. Every year however, OFW’s are forced to send even more money back home as the cost of living in the country is rising fast!

When I went back home last week, I visited the SM Mall North, near Pasay and had some dinner in one of the many restaurants. It cost me nearly seven pounds to eat, with a freshly squeezed orange itself costing £2! Bearing in mind there are many Filipinos earning only around 400 pesos a day, a glass of orange juice would end up costing half of their daily salary!

With all of this in mind, without the overseas dollar, one wonders whether some of the malls would even have been built. Unless you are lucky enough to bag a job in one of the many call centers in the country, or have a well paid job, luxuries like going out and eating in nice restaurants seem unaffordable to the masses.

With that in mind, many choose to leave the Philippines and end up working abroad. As well as jobs in hotels, ships, hospitals, oil rigs, airlines, a great many end up working in private homes as domestic helpers or DH.

I believe that through these OFW’s sending money each month, the Philippine government and economy have come to rely partly on this revenue gained from the dollars pumped into the country via the domestic workers. Going back to the global recession, as far as I am aware, fortunately the Philippines were one of the very few countries in the world to have been virtually unaffected. OFW’s however, had to work harder to send more money due to the falling rates of other currency, our family included.

So, I wonder what things will be like in the future. When I went back home recently, I had to transit in the UAE. I read a very interesting report in a local newspaper, XPRESS, Abu Dhabi. It discussed the search for ‘maids’ (not a term I am fond of as it makes me think of servants and slaves, which had been abolished in the 1800’s!)

The report mentioned that many countries had stopped sending their citizens to the UAE after reports of bad treatment and working conditions. According to the report, the Philippines stopped sending workers in June 2014. In the report, a local Emarati woman explained that she ‘could not survive even a day without househelp’

So I guess my question is directed at the UAE government and even citizens of the UAE, why do you think it might be harder to find Filipino workers?

I have great respect for the UAE; however, the question must remain, whilst domestic workers and house helpers in the UAE continue to be poorly paid, often working very long hours with difficult living conditions, it seems obvious to me that there will be less Filipino citizens going there in search of employment. Even then, those still wishing to do so might not be permitted to do so by the Philippine government. With all of that in mind and the decline of OFW’s filling these positions, does this in turn mean that we will see a decline in dollars being remitted back home?

How can the vast array of malls, leisure attractions and businesses, as well as property companies survive through local income only? So the challenge I guess must be for the UAE and other countries employing OFW’s to improve pay, working conditions and treatment of not only Filipinos but citizens of other countries working there. Otherwise they may struggle to find domestic help from abroad, so we might even see a day when locals from the UAE and other Gulf states may actually be forced to do their own domestic chores!

So to the readers of Aura magazine, I do believe that some Gulf States are getting worried about the lack of available employees and I hope this will be reflected not only in pay cheques, but also in living and working conditions.

As well as having a keen interest in the plight of domestic workers from the Philippines, I would also like to research other topics of concern for Filipinos worldwide.

I have seen many groups on the Internet and indeed Facebook campaigning for a system of trial by jury in the Philippines. As well as sharing my views, I would like to hear yours. You are welcome to get in touch with your thoughts on the issue. Until next month, paalam

You are, of course, welcome to write to me with your views and indeed stories. I can be contacted through the following channels:

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Mabuhay at maraming salamat po

conlan

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