Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Myanmar to discuss domestic workers’ concerns with Singapore

Myanmar's Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population officials were scheduled to meet their Singaporean counterparts this week to discuss issues facing domestic workers in the island state, a senior official said.

‘’We will meet the Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) officials next week at Nay Pyi Taw to discuss about Myanmar domestic workers’ conditions there,” U Win Shein, director general of Labour Department of the ministry told the media.

He also said Myanmar is seeking ways to draw up special domestic labour laws to prevent labour rights violations of Myanmar domestic workers abroad.

‘’Myanmar workers are going abroad illegally to work as domestic workers. We are trying to make it legal. So, we have the plan to draw up the domestic worker law,” U Win Shein told The Myanmar Times on Friday.

He said Myanmar is studying domestic labour laws of foreign countries to ensure maximum protection for its workers.

The ministry allowed overseas employment agencies to deploy about 200 Myanmar domestic workers to Singapore and Hong Kong in June 2013.

But the country banned the deployment of domestic workers in Singapore a few months later, in March 2014, due to many cases of abuses and labour rights violations.

Despite the ban some agents continued to send domestic helpers to Singapore illegally and at present there are about 40,000 Myanmar citizens working as maids in Singapore, according to Singapore-based migrant rights group Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) and the Myanmar Oversea Employment Agencies Federation (MOEAF).

In June, an 18-year-old Myanmar female maid allegedly committed suicide by jumping off the 18th floor of a multi-storey condominium while she was being consoled by the emergency rescue team and her neighbouring Indonesian house maid friend.

On August 14, a Myanmar maid was sentenced to five months imprisonment after a court found her guilty of mixing Dettol disinfectant into the cereal of her employer’s mother-in-law in April, according to a Myanmar embassy official in Singapore.

The MOM on August 15 has also filed 13 criminal charges against a 30-year-old Singaporean woman for failing to pay monthly salaries and rest day wages for her Myanmar domestic worker.

In this case, the Myanmar maid was not paid her wages between March 2016 and February 2017, according to an MOM statement.

A member of HOME organisation told The Myanmar Times there are many Myanmar children who are under the age of 18 who are sent illegally to Singapore to work as domestic helpers.

Myanmar domestic workers are paid between 460 and 500 Singapore dollars monthly but they allegedly have to give seven months’ wages to the brokers as a fee, according to HOME.