SHAH ALAM: Higher wages for Indonesian domestic workers will be on the agenda when the Malaysia-Indonesia joint working group meets in Jakarta this week.
Indonesia is expected to ask for the monthly salary to be raised to RM1,200 from the present RM800, during the meetings scheduled on Thursday and Friday.
In May, Indonesia sent a memorandum to the Government asking for the minimum wage to be raised to RM1,200.
Besides prospective Malaysian employers saying a loud “No”, any hike in the salary will also not go down well with local economists who say Malaysia is already facing an outflow of RM5bil a year to Indonesia based on the present RM800 wage.
Of the over 320,000 foreign maids in the country, 230,000 are from Indonesia.
UiTM Arshad Ayub Graduate Business School senior lecturer Dr Tan Peck Leong said at least a third of Malaysian women with maids must return to work to compensate for the billions lost in the national economy from dependence on foreign maids.
Dr Tan, who researches the impact of foreign maids in Malaysia, said there was a rapid rise in the number of Malaysians employing maids.
“From about 4,000 such employers in the 1980s, it is now 320,000. But the female labour force has remained just below the 50% benchmark over the past 25 years.
“This defeats the whole purpose of the government policy on foreign maids, which was meant to allow more Malaysian women to participate in the workforce,” he said.
Malaysia University of Science and Technology (MUST) School of Business dean Dr Yeah Kim Leng noted that maids typically remitted 70% or more of their salaries, an outflow similar to foreign workers’ remittance in other sectors of the economy.
“In the long term, the amount of money lost is great. To recover, at least half of Malaysian women with maids must go back to work, with a minimum salary of RM4,000 a month each to compensate for the loss,” he said.
Dr Tan urged for alternatives to be promoted like daycare centres in workplaces.