Take a hard look at maid agencies
Lee Su Shyan
Mon, May 26, 2008
The Straits Times
AN EXPERIENCED maid called an agency and was told she would be charged four months' wages to be assigned to an employer in Singapore.

She paid her own fare to Batam, was met by the agent at the airport and taken to his office.

There, she was asked to sign a document that stated the charge was six months' wages.

When she asked about the difference, she was told other agencies charge eight months. Left with no choice, she signed the document.

The agent paid for her food and accommodation for a week in Batam, gave her some basic toiletries, paid for her ferry ticket to Singapore and arranged for her to undergo a medical examination and give her thumb print for the work permit.

The agent also provided food and accommodation for four days in Singapore before her employer picked her up.

For these services, she was charged $1,920. Even as she shared her experiences, she was afraid the agent would come after her if he knew she had complained.

I urge employers and other concerned parties to highlight similar cases so we can rally protection for these maids. Together, we can make a difference.

Janice Chin (Mrs)

'If the employer didn't pay it, who would?'
MR LIAM DONNELLY, referring to a letter by Ms Jennifer Chan on May 15. He asked how a maid on an average wage of $300 a month could even begin to pay a $3,000 medical bill. 'Or would we all be justified in thinking we have no moral responsibility for the people we take into our home?' he asked

'I was not allowed to hire another maid, whereas she could continue working here in Singapore.'
MS MAY TAN, whose maid ran away and lodged a false complaint against her with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) that she had been made to work at the apartment of Ms Tan's mother. To make matters worse, added Ms Tan, 'she had taken a six-month advance from me. When I told MOM she owed me money, they said they couldn't help as they will step in only if the employer owes the maid money'

'We don't hear much about maids being rude to their employers.'
MS ELIZABETH ANG, who notes one often reads about maids being abused by their employers. She feels some maids, whose employers treat them well and find them capable, start to think they are indispensable. 'This happens if the maids are employed to look after the aged or the disabled,' she adds

'A home helper needs to speak only basic English - words that relate to domestic chores.' MS RITA TAN: 'Most important is the maid's work attitude.'

'We prefer a maid from Myanmar who has been tested and trained by our parents.'
MR EDWIN WU, whose family is from Myanmar and speaks the language


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