22 Feb 2007

Wage Hike For Filipino Maids In Singapore Seen As Unlikely

The Philippine government's call for 400-US- dollar monthly salaries for maids overseas is unlikely to have any impact in Singapore, maid agents said Thursday.

Wages in the city-state are determined by market forces, agents told The Straits Times. There is no government-to-government agreement on the issue.

Maids from the Philippines earn 330 dollars to 350 dollars a month.

Half of the 160,000 maids in Singapore are Filipinos. Domestic workers from Indonesia, the second-largest source of maids, are paid far less, along with Sri Lankans.

A Philippine Embassy official told the newspaper that the "reform package" also requires maids going overseas to be at least 23 years old, up from 21. It calls for hiking salaries to 400 dollars from a 200-dollar minimum implemented in the 1970s.

Taiwan and Hong Kong are abiding by the new rules, he said.

"It's high time for a salary increase," he noted, but acknowledged that the new policies will be difficult to enforce in Singapore.

The city-state's Ministry of Manpower maintains that there is no minimum wage for foreign domestic workers. Terms and conditions are negotiated individually between workers and employers.

Filipinos working overseas sent home more than 10.7 billion US dollars in 2005, equal to 12 per cent of their country's gross domestic product, the report said.

© 2007 DPA

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