$400 maid’s salary could reduce employment in Mideast by 70 per cent this year

MANILA Some Gulf countries are not sure of granting Filipino maids visas that would allow them to receive a minimum monthly salary of $400, threatening a decline in the overseas deployment of these workers this year.

According to Manny Geslani, a recruitment consultant, who, quoting “reliable sources in the industry”, revealed in an article published in Manila Bulletin yesterday that immigration officials in some Gulf countries did not agree with the proposal by foreign placement agencies on the maids’ salaries.

Should the issue remain unresolved, Geslani said, the deployment of Filipino maids, or household service workers (HSWs), to the Middle East would drop by as much as 70 per cent this year.

Even in Saudi Arabia, which struck an agreement with the Philippines last October involving a new reform package for HSWs, the number of Filipino maids has not reached the levels similar to those in 2010.

It may be recalled that Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on Filipino maids on October 1, 2012, as it agreed to give an HSW a minimum salary of $400 per month. This was more than a year after the kingdom unilaterally imposed the ban in July 2011, as the Philippine government required a minimum salary and implemented stricter measures upon Saudi recruiters.

Geslani said that in 2011, the POEA deployed 142,689 HSWs overseas, plus over 10,000 caregivers.

Geslani stressed that opposition to the $400-minimum monthly salary, which is a requirement by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), has stemmed from the lack of bilateral meetings between the Philippines and host-governments.

He said, meanwhile, that insurance companies covering OFWs, or overseas Filipino workers, with mandatory insurance have been adversely affected by the reduced deployment of HSWs starting from last November, when the POEA started its crackdown on agencies that deployed maids since 2007 with a salary of less than $400.

Geslani said that HSWs made up 70 percent of total deployment in 2011 and 40 percent in 2010, prompting insurance companies to earn 2 billion pesos (Dh180.8m) in revenues in 2011 and 2012.

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