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Full-time maids are now almost unaffordable

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Shuchita Kapur/Emirates 24/7 News
2011 Nov 30
Dubai residents are feeling the pinch when it comes to hiring full-time househelps. Majority of residents claim that the cost of recruiting domestic help continues to increase while their income has not increased proportionately in the recent past.
An irked resident said: “The maid agencies seem to be increasing their placement charges each year. The money they take from us as salary for the maid is also increasing. The sad part is that they don’t even pay the maids half of what they take from us.”
Even the embassies and consulates of different countries that are main providers of domestic help in the UAE increase the costs.
Most recently, the embassy of Nepal have made a security deposit of Dh5,000 mandatory. “I’m in the process of getting a maid from Nepal. I’ve booked her tickets and now this new rule about the security deposit has come into effect,” complained a resident living in The Springs area of Dubai.
“.. After we check your documents, we ask you to submit these documents along with refundable Dh5,000 as security deposit (for the new domestic workers only) and Dh300 as service charge (non-refundable),” read the website of the Embassy of Nepal in the UAE.
Al Ahliya agency gets maids from countries such as the Philippine and Indonesia. “We charge Dh8,150 for getting a maid from the Philippines and Dh9,250 from Indonesia. This is just to process the documents and includes one way air fare to the UAE. It excludes all kinds of visa charges, which is to be paid by the sponsor. The salary for Filipinos range from Dh1,100-Dh1,000 and Dh800-Dh700 for Indonesians,” an executive at the agency told ‘Emirates24|7’.
Another agency UIT providing Filipino maids charge Dh2,700 per month for a two-year contract. Their office charges are Dh3,000 with an additional security deposit of Dh5,000. The agency provides one-time replacement. The maid remains on the visa of the company, an executive at the agency said.
“They have changed their charges. I took a maid from them in 2007. The office commission was Dh2,000 and the monthly charges were less,” said Anita, an Indian mother, who’d hired from the same agency. Even the hourly services of the agencies seem to be getting more expensive each year. Al Deyar maid service charges Dh70 per hour for a two maid team.
Getting maids by word-of-mouth is a much better option, say residents. In this case one can save on agency commission and other charges, say families who have got their help from other sources like the classifieds.

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Foreign worker exodus to spark Malaysian labour crunch

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Razak Ahmad/Reuters
2011 Jun 22
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Indonesian plumber Yadi has been plying his trade in Malaysia since 2003, part of a two million-strong migrant labour force that forms the backbone of Kuala Lumpur’s plantations and construction industries.
But now, the 30-year old wants to go home as wages rise and job opportunities open up in Jakarta, a growing trend among Indonesian workers that analysts say could produce a labour crunch and slower economic growth for Malaysia.
“I have heard a lot from friends and relatives about jobs opening up in my home country, and if I can as easily earn just slightly less in a city like Jakarta compared to what I make now, I will go back,” said Yadi, who earns 90 ringgit (18 pounds) a day as a plumber’s assistant.
From minding babies to erecting skyscrapers, Malaysia’s economy has been supported over the last three decades by a foreign workforce drawn mainly from Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal as an industrialisation drive created a wealth of low-paying jobs shunned by locals.

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Domestic workers hail landmark convention

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Deutsche Welle
2011 July 12
The International Labour Organization (ILO) said it has received an encouraging response from several countries about their willingness to join the Convention on Domestic Workers, which ILO delegates adopted last month.
Brazil reportedly indicated that it would like to be the first country to ratify the treaty.
According to the ILO’s own regulations, the convention only comes into force after it has been ratified by two countries. The organization said it is confident that will happen by next year – yet the process involves more than just a signature.
Before governments can ratify the convention, they must make sure their own national laws and practices reflect the obligations outlined in the treaty.
Delegates at the centennial ILO annual conference in Geneva voted 396 to 16 to adopt the domestic workers convention, which had been a decade in the making. There were 63 abstentions.
The ILO’s director-general says the convention protects domestic workers rights
A welcome change
When the outcome of the vote was announced, crowds of domestic workers and advocates gathered in Geneva erupted in cheers. Many had traveled long distances – from South Africa, Kenya, Nepal and Jamaica – to show their support for the convention.

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Attitudes toward domestic workers must change

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment

National
2010 Dec 23
What started off as a trickle of good news for domestic workers will hopefully develop into a full deluge in the coming months and years. As The National reported yesterday, Nepal has lifted a 10-year ban on working in the Gulf countries for housemaids and nannies, and pledged to protect their labour rights. Nepalese maids worked illegally in the Gulf for years but were often subjected to continuous mistreatment that they were unable to report. Now the Nepalese government can work with their counterparts in the region to monitor their treatment.
Indonesia’s government is also proposing changes, drafting a law that will reduce the number of maids heading to the Emirates in favour of more skilled professional workers. And for its part, the Filipino embassy in Abu Dhabi has ramped up its efforts to work with local authorities in order to expedite the repatriation of runaway maids, many of whom were fleeing emotional, and in rarer cases, physical abuse.
This kind of abuse is happening. The Indian Workers Resource Centre in Dubai, which has been inundated with calls from employees who face difficulties, many of them unpaid labourers and mistreated domestic staff, has helped to reveal the extent of the problem. Their outreach also shows that it can be addressed.
Not all of these developments appear to be positive on first reflection. Yet, each demonstrates how the Government is trying to improve its own practices and communication with other governments. All of these parties have an interest in ensuring that workers do not encounter mistreatment when they pursue opportunity in the UAE.

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95% rise in labour law violations

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Emirate 24/7
2010 Dec 12
Dubai witnessed an increase in the number of people arrested for violating residence and labour law in November this year. About 402 people were held last month compared to 206 during the same period last year, registering a 95.1 per cent increase.
According to the monthly report of the Department of Markets, Dubai Municipality, the department carried out 597 campaigns during November 2010, which led to the arrest of 250 peddlers (vendors), including 247 men and three women; 38 beggars including 30 men andeight women; 54 men who were earning a living illegally by washing cars; and 60 butchers and fish cleaners working without a licence.
Of those arrested 182 were Bangladeshis, 169 Pakistanis, 14 Indians,10 Iranians, seven Afghanis, six Syrians, five Filipinos, four Jordanians, three from Morocco, and one from Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The campaign also led to confiscation of 5,347 prohibited substances,including 2,308 counterfeit CDs; 2,219 other products including garments, watches, perfumes and cameras; 707 alcoholic beverages and 77 boxes of expired fruits and vegetables and 36 CDs of indecent movies.

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PM’s wife accused of maltreating caretaker

The Jerusalem Post
2011 Aug 30
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a strong denial Tuesday night of media reports that Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister’s wife, mistreated a foreign worker hired as a caretaker for her elderly father, in what has become almost a ritual of periodic media reports of Netanyahu’s alleged bad behavior, followed by PMO charges that the press is out to get her, and the Netanyahu family.
This time the story involves a foreign worker from Nepal, identified only as “T,” employed by the Netanyahus to look after Sara’s 96-year-old father, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, who was recently released from Hadassah University Hospital’s intensive care unit, and has been living for the past several weeks with the Netanyahus in the prime minister’s house.
According to a Channel 2 report, Sara suspected “T” of neglect and stealing money from her father. The report said that a fierce argument broke out between the two, during which “T” fell and hurt her hand on a table, after which a doctor was called.
“T,” who has been with Ben- Artzi for more than two years, charged in the Channel 2 report that Netanyahu didn’t feed her, cursed at her and didn’t give her vacation time. She has reportedly hired a lawyer.
The Prime Minister’s Office quickly issued a response saying the true story was “completely opposite” of what was reported.
According to the statement, the complaints registered by the worker were without foundation, and made only after it became known to her that the agency employing her was asked to find a replacement because she was negligent in her treatment of Ben-Artzi for a number of months.
“When it became known to her that she was about to be fired – something that could lead to her being deported from the country – she made up the story, and now there is a cynical and unworthy campaign against the Netanyahu family,” the statement said.
“Enough already of automatically throwing slime at the Netanyahu family,” the statement said. “Leave Mrs.
Netanyahu alone to deal with her 96-year-old father, suffering from a severe illness who was just released from intensive care.”
The statement continued to state that the Netanyahu family “also has the right to replace negligent workers who are not giving the necessary treatment to their elderly parents.”
Meanwhile, the Hotline for Migrant Workers and Physicians for Human Rights issued a statement on Tuesday saying they had received a complaint that “raised serious suspicions about the work conditions of “T,” a migrant worker who lived in the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem and was employed as a caretaker for Sara Netanyahu’s father.”
The statement said the complaint alleged “T” was prevented from leaving the residence and was not paid severance pay “with the intention of ensuring that she would leave the country.
If this indeed turns out to be true, it would constitute the denial of the freedom of a worker and the exploitation of the worker’s weakness in order to exert pressure upon the worker.
“We are certain that this complaint will be examined by the relevant trustworthy bodies, and that the investigation will be carried out in an unbiased fashion.”

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Saudi Arabia suspends visas to Indonesian domestic workers

CNN Wire Staff
2011 July 01
Beginning Saturday, Saudi Arabia will suspend the issuance of visas to domestic workers from Indonesia, the latest move in what may be a tit-for-tat game of economics and human rights.
The statement came days after the Indonesian government declared it will refuse to allow its citizens to go to Saudi Arabia until human rights conditions there improve.
Indonesia issued its moratorium policy, effective August 1, after the Gulf kingdom beheaded an Indonesian worker last month. Ruyati binti Satubi had been accused of killing her employer’s wife. Indonesia claims it was in the process of seeking her clemency, and was not notified before the beheading.
For years, international human rights organizations have criticized Saudi Arabia for its treatment of migrant workers. A 2011 Human Rights Watch report notes that domestic workers from Indonesia and elsewhere who travel to Saudi Arabia “frequently endure forced confinement; food deprivation; and severe psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.”
Some of these cases have made international headlines. Last August, doctors at a Sri Lankan hospital operated for three hours to remove 18 nails and metal particles allegedly hammered into the arms, legs, and forehead of a maid by her Saudi employer.
And, in what many said was a first for the kingdom, a Saudi woman was sentenced in January to three years in prison for abusing her Indonesian maid.
Twenty-three other Indonesians are on death row in the Arab kingdom.
Indonesian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Michael Tene told CNN that the Indonesian government was notified Thursday of the change in Saudi visa policy. He said, “We feel that this new policy by Saudi Arabia is in line with our moratorium policy and will in fact make it more effective.”
Indonesia has demanded “an Indonesian-Saudi memorandum of understanding on the protection of migrant workers” and a joint task force to monitor the situation. Tene stressed that talks between the two countries are scheduled for later this month and have not been canceled, despite the Saudi declaration.
A Human Rights Watch analysis of a similar 2009 agreement between Indonesia and Malaysia indicates that such an agreement might not fix the problem. The website says, “When Indonesia froze migration of domestic workers to Malaysia in 2009 until a more protective Memorandum of Understanding could be concluded, recruiters from Malaysia turned to Cambodian workers instead.”
Indeed, Saudi Ministry of Labor spokesman Hattab Bin Salah Al-Anzi said Wednesday that the kingdom will focus instead on recruiting workers from “other sources,” according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
Several countries across the Middle East and Asia host significant numbers of migrant domestic workers, ranging from 196,000 in Singapore to about 1.5 million in Saudi Arabia, according to a report published last year by Human Rights Watch.
Many of the domestic workers are poor Asian women from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Nepal. Widespread abuse has been documented by global human rights groups.

For full story click here.