Housemaids: Some 'buttering', others 'milking'

Stalemate over demands to contractually guarantee a higher salary for housemaids from The Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, has changed the attitudes of many housemaids towards their employers - for better or for worse.

Fearing termination of services and deportation, some housemaids have improved their behaviour a lot and started performing their duties in a dedicated manner as they don’t want to leave the UAE.

Others, however, emboldened by the demands of their home countries, have been reported to blackmail their sponsors to get the maximum - or else they would leave.

“I can't believe that this is the same Jenny. Now she tells me that she doesn’t want to go back to the Philippines and has begged me to renew her contract and allow her to stay for two more years.

“This news shocked all my family as they all knew that she was not good and she always threatened to leave and go back to her home country so she could return here to the UAE and work in Abu Dhabi as she has many friends working there,” said Anood  Al Shamsi, UAE national from Sharjah and mother of an eight-month-old baby girl.

Al Shamsi always complained of the bad behaviour and laziness of her housemaid.

“I was searching for another maid as Jenny’s visa was about to expire last month.

“She requested me to keep her as she won’t be able to come back to work in the UAE. She said that she likes being here in the UAE unlike other GCC countries, and promised to change and work hard.

“She also promised to look after my daughter. This is unbelievable, as earlier, she used to complain a lot and also refuse to look after my daughter while I am at work.”

In June, the UAE Ministry of Interior introduced a new contract for housemaids which aims to protect the rights of both employers and housemaids.

However, some embassies of source countries did not agree to the contract conditions and put a ban on their domestic workers.

These are countries like Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.

So, if Jenny left, it is unlikely she would be allowed by the Philippines to return to the UAE any time soon unless her contract is as is demanded by her government.

Maryam Ali, another UAE national living in Dubai, shared the opposite views - her housemaid is almost blackmailing her.

“My Indonesian housemaid found out from other maids that currently there are difficulties with getting a housemaid from Indonesia and Philippines.

“She changed a lot. She was a good housemaid and from the beginning we treated her well. Her monthly salary when she first came two years ago was Dh800.

“After completing her first year, we increased her salary to Dh1,000, and after completing two years, we increased it to Dh1,200 - without her asking for the increase.

“However, she is now trying to blackmail us and she is asking for a mobile phone which was not in the initial contract when she first came to work with us.

“She has changed. Earlier, she was a hardworking and a loyal person. Now, she started stealing money from our wallets and is also not very good at her work.

“The only reason which is forcing me to keep her is because I cannot find a replacement. Once this issue is resolved with the concerned countries, I am going to replace her.”

These complications have led to a shortage of housemaids at recruiting offices as well.