POLO gets almost daily complaints about FDH food

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Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre

FILIPINO domestic workers who do not get enough food from their employers can have them included in the watchlist of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), according to Labor Attache Jalilo Dela Torre.

Dela Torre said that the POLO received complaints almost “daily” against employers who do not give enough food for their helper. He said these employers are put on the watchlist, which included more than 6,000 employers as of January.

“We do it all the time…almost on a daily basis. Problema sa pagkain. Dami,” Dela Torre said in an interview.

He also urged the Hong Kong government to intensify its monitoring to determine if employers were following the provisions of the Standard Employment Contract of FDHs.

“We urge the Hong Kong government to put more teeth and resources into their enforcement machinery in the implementation of the employment contracts for foreign domestic helpers,” Dela Torre said.

He issued the call after the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) released the results of a survey showing that 70.6 percent of FDHs were working more than 13 hours a day.

Dela Torre said the “long-term” solution for the problem of long working hours was for the Legislative Council to set the working hours of workers in HK.

“In the long run, dapat may ordinance talaga yan. Limit working hours and fixed din yung rest hours. Dapat nakafix sa kontrata,” Dela Torre said.

“Legislation, put it into legislation,” he added.

But in a meeting with Philippine Consulate General (PCG) officers last year, Labour Department officials noted the difficulty of setting fixed working hours for foreign domestic helpers since even local employees had no standard working hours.

“They added that it is hard to quantify the working time of an FDH in a household setting,” the PCG said.

“(PCG’s) counter-proposal to LD’s concern is to specify in the attachment to the FDH contract the staggered work schedule of the helper, e.g. for 10-hour-a-day work, 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.,” it added.

The LD said they would encourage employers to be “more humane and considerate” in providing sufficient rest to their helpers. It also vowed to step up its education campaign for employers.

On Feb. 13, the Research Centre on Migration and Mobility (RCMM) of CUHK released the results of its survey which showed that migrant domestic workers (MDWs) are “less healthy” compared to local Hong Kong residents due to their “poor working conditions.”

It said 43.9 percent do not have their own private room, 34.6 percent need to work on their day-off, 5.9 percent have no day-off in a week, 28.6 percent feel discriminated against, 3.9 percent are physically abused by their employer, 7.3 percent have never received their wage.