By Raïssa Robles
PNoy’s government has just rejected a Saudi government appeal to cut the Filipino maids’ minimum wage back to US$200 from the current US$400, as well as waive other requirements, an Associated Press report said.
The issue has been a major irritant in our bilateral relations. But I’m glad the Philippine government is standing pat. Because US$200 is just too low to compensate for all the hardship that a domestic has to bear while living in the desert away from home, family and friends.
Consider this, a minimum wage earner in Manila earns around P7,000 a month. If the minimum is set back to US$200, using the current peso-dollar rate, a domestic in Saudi would earn a mere P8,600 – or only P1,600 more than if she stayed in Manila.
Requiring potential employers to give personal data, including personal income, is an additional but necessary safeguard.
The Saudi government has even tried to use the “mediation card” – meaning, their nationals should get our nationals on the cheap because they are helping out in the peace negotiations in southern Philippines.
Nice try, Saudi. But it doesn’t work.
I know for a fact that Saudi families prefer Filipino maids and that having Filipino maids is a status symbol over there.
I remember, my editor in Riyadh Daily (now defunct) phoned me numerous times to ask me to locate his Filipino maid who had returned home for good. Because she refused to return to his household, he wanted me to recruit another Filipino maid for him.
I drew the line on that one and stopped contributing to his broadsheet. I didn’t want to end up as an illegal labor recruiter.