Home News Social worker decries MOM's controlling system for foreign domestic workers

Social worker decries MOM's controlling system for foreign domestic workers

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By: Jolovan Wham / Executive Director HOME
An Indonesian domestic worker came to us for help because she could not tahan (withstand) her employer’s harsh scolding. According to the employer, she is a “good worker” and “honest” except that she is “too emotional” at times. The employer acknowledged that she may have been too harsh on the worker.
I arranged a mediation and the employer still wanted her back because her daughter had grown fond of the domestic worker. The employer promised to treat her better and offered her a weekly 4 hour time off on weekdays as an inducement. She did not have any regular days off previously.

But the domestic worker did not think it was a good deal. She also did not believe that her employer would be kinder to her. She decided to return to Batam.
The employer was disappointed by this and did not want to get her a ticket to Batam because she “does not deserve it” and was a “bad maid” for terminating her employment prematurely. She said her husband did not welcome her back to the family because she was ungrateful and did not “love” their daughter anymore.
The husband’s reaction is quite typical when an employment relationship sours. The nature of live-in domestic work, where an employee is expected to be “part of the family” gives rise to such feelings.
The employer said that since she came to Singapore via Jakarta, she must return to Jakarta. But the worker wanted to go to Batam because her sister in law lives there and her husband will be there in a week or two and she wanted to return to her hometown with him.
We filed an appeal to MOM (Ministry of Manpower) to allow her to be repatriated to Batam. But MOM refused, saying that it is up to the employer to decide and not the worker. I know it is common for aggrieved employers who wish to spite their domestic workers to do this. But what’s less acceptable is when our policies allow it.
What kind of system have we created that a domestic worker can’t even decide where in her country to return to? Why are we so determined to control her from the moment she enters the country till she departs?

Republished from Mr Wham’s Facebook.

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