Trapped by ‘innocent’ job offer

Trapped by ‘innocent’ job offer

The job offer: Management staff in a respectable restaurant, with a guaranteed minimum salary of $3,000 a month.

The requirement? "You must be willing to work hard and be nice to customers."

It sounded like a job she thought she could do well, says a Filipina who wants to be known only as Ms Ruth in a telephone interview with The New Paper on Sunday.

She agreed to share her story because she wanted to highlight that "not every woman who comes to Singapore knows what she is in for".

Ms Ruth, who is in her late 20s, says: "It may sound stupid but the truth is, sometimes, we are so caught in poverty in our hometown that when there's a golden opportunity like this, we jump at it.

"It's only when we are here that we realise that there is a darker side to our job."

That was the case for her in 2012.

A fellow Filipina who had returned home told her that she was making good money in Singapore. She also told her about the job at the restaurant.

At that time, Ms Ruth was struggling as a sales assistant in a mall in Manila, earning 10,000 pesos (S$285) a month.

Her husband, who was working in a car workshop, was making "just slightly more" - about 12,000 pesos a month. They have two children aged three and four.

She says: "It was really tough to make ends meet. I was also worried about the children's future."

While the job offer was good news, Ms Ruth says her husband asked her to find out more details before making any decision. It was advice that she now regrets not heeding.

"I was more excited at the prospect of making good money... I lied and said that a cousin who was working in Singapore had vouched for the authenticity of the offer," she says.

To prepare for their "new future", she and her husband borrowed $5,000 from friends and relatives. The loan went to paying the $3,000 cost of bringing her to Singapore (which included a budget airline ticket) and $1,800 for a work-permit application fee.

Ms Ruth says: "I arrived in Singapore with only $200 to my name."

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