Groups against agencies handling maid supply

  • Nation
  • Friday, 20 Dec 2013

PETALING JAYA: Leaving it to selecte­d maid agencies to decide and dictate the cost of hiring domestic workers is dangerous as it will lead to a monopoly, groups representing those who hire maids said.

“We will be completely at their mercy,” said Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein, president of the Malaysian Maid Employers Association (Mama).

“It is true that the Government should not dictate the price, but a free market should depend on supply and demand and not be decided by just two parties.”

He described the decision as a step backwards.

They were asked to comment on the news that recruitment agencies in Malaysia and Indonesia have now been given the task of resolving the maid supply problem rather than the governments of both countries.

Engku Ahmad said there are at least 200,000 Malaysian employers still waiting for maids.

He said it is still very difficult to get Indonesian maids as the workers are getting “more demanding” and seeking higher wages of up to RM900, compared with the previous­ly agreed sum of RM700.

“The best solution is still for Malay­sians to look for alternatives and learn to live without maids,” he said.

Fomca secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj agreed, saying the move is a bad idea as it would lead to higher costs for employers.

“Allowing the agencies to work out an agreement means they would have almost monopolistic powers, which is not good because their motive will be profit,” he said.

He added that the Government, especially the Human Resources Ministry, must monitor the negotiations and ensure a fair deal for employers and maids.

“Without the Government stepping in, who decides whether the costs the agencies agree upon are reasonable?” he asked.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general Abdul Halim Mansor said the Government should only agree to the deal worked out by the agencies if it safeguards the interest of the maids.

“We always preferred a government-to-government deal between Malaysia and Indonesia when it comes to maids and foreign workers because the Indonesian government has ratified Convention 189 of the International Labour Organisation which spells out minimum conditions for employers,” Halim said.

These include giving maids one day a week off and allowing them to keep in their possession their travel and identity documents.

With the deal to be inked by maid agencies representing the private sector, it is possible that they would be exempt from having to comply with the convention as it was ratified only by the Government and not the private sector, he said.

“We must ensure that the agencies provide an undertaking to meet these minimum conditions, so we urge that the Government give the Human Resources Ministry full power­s to set terms if necessary,” added Halim.

Related stories:

Agencies to resolve maid issue

End to stalemate on maids in the offing

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