Saturday, September 5, 2009

Confirmed Indonesia is asking RM800 wage for maids - Dr S. Subramaniam


SEREMBAN: Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam has confirmed that Indonesia is demanding a RM800 minimum salary for its domestic maids, saying that it is under “pressure” to do so from the republic’s local media.

Dr Subramaniam said the Indonesian government had little choice but to do so following reports by its media of so-called rampant abuse of maids by Malaysian employers.

He said the RM800 wage demand was discussed during a meeting between ministry officials and their Indonesian counterparts in Putrajaya two weeks ago.

“We told them that this is not fair as 99.9% of the 280,000 Indonesian maids here are treated well.

“Only 0.1% may be ill-treated or not have their salaries paid but they (the Indonesian government) are being pressured by their media,” he said here Saturday.

Indonesian maids in the country are now being paid an average of between RM450 and RM600 monthly.

Asked if he thought the amount was high, Subramaniam said the ministry would wait for the outcome of the next meeting in Jakarta.

“I do not want to pre-empt it. I have told my officers what they should do. Let us wait and see if this is agreed to by our Indonesian counterparts,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam was responding to reports quoting Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Da’i Bachtiar as saying that Jakarta would be making the higher wage demand in its negotiations.

Asked if his ministry had contingency plans in case Jakarta refused to budge, Dr Subramaniam said Malaysian employers could source their domestic maids from other countries.

“We should also stop relying on foreign maids. It is high time we become self-reliant.

“We allow employers to bring in maids from Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. “We have also thought about China but there have been some debate here if this should be allowed,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam said it was also a known fact that when the government of a source country had asked for exorbitant wages for their maids, the demand from Malaysians would fall.

“We used to have more than 10,000 maids from the Philippines previously. The number has since fallen to 8,000. Malaysians have a choice where they wish to get their maids from,” he added. - The Star

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