About 300 000 Pinays go overseas each year to work as “domestic helpers”. Essentially they are maids, although some (Often women with teachers or nursing degrees) will be on the higher pay scale as nannies or home health aids.

But in December, the Government here decided to increase the wage for official contracts to $300 a month. And this has caused protests, especially in Mindanao, where
As Life on the spot Blog points out, the previous wage was $200 US dollars a month, but with the increase of salary mandated by both India and now the Philippines, many middle class families in the Middle East will prefer to find home help elsewhere. (i.e. Indonesia, or to illegally hire and recruit maids).

One way the Philippine government is aiming to counteract this problem is to hold classes for “supermaids”, who will be high school graduates and proficient in English and in caretaking/cleaning skills. These women are in demand in East Asia, because they fit in well, and tend to be hard working and adjust well to modern households.
However, given high unemployement and few opportunities for other jobs especially in rural areas where unskilled women have few opportunities. One suspects the real result of raising the minimum wage will simply be an increase in illegal hiring, so the most desperate will end up even more vulnerable to being exploited by employers.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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