Dubai: Foreign placement agencies in the UAE looking to hire Filipino housemaids for employers in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah will only be able to do so if their track record is “clean”, Philippine labour attache Delmer Cruz told Gulf News.
Cruz said his office has prepared a new watch list detailing the track record of more than 80 placement agencies operating in the UAE between January and August this year. Of the 80 recruiters, 45 were found to have been lax on regulations or had cases of runaway maids.
All the 45 erring agencies were ranked according to the severity of violations and the 15 agencies held responsible for the most number of runaways are being closely monitored.
“We hold in abeyance the verification process of these agencies’ documents and will not approve their application for new job orders [for new housemaids] unless the complaints have been resolved,” Cruz told Gulf News.
Currently, a total of 108 Filipinos have sought shelter at the Filipino Workers Resource Centre (FWRC), a halfway house for distressed Filipinos run by the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (Polo). Many of the workers complained of unjust work hours, ill-treatment, and non-payment of wages.
The move comes after Philippine labour secretary Rosalinda Baldoz’s instructions last month to ban abusive employers from hiring Filipino housemaids around the world.
A five-year selective phase-out plan to find suitable assignments for domestic workers overseas is also being studied and is expected to be ready by the year-end.
While the new watch list is not a deciding factor in itself, Cruz said that the number of violations and runaways against a placement agency’s name were indicative of its failure to safeguard the rights and welfare of workers it had hired. He said he will hold a meeting with erring agencies to discuss and resolve such issues.
Meanwhile, secretary Rosalinda commended Cruz for the initiative and assured him that the labour department would “act fast on your reports and recommendations”.
“Continue to clean the roster of HSWs [household service workers] employers and agents to ensure that [Filipinos] in the UAE are fully documented and accounted for,” Rosalinda said in response to Cruz’s report.
Migrant rights group Migrante-UAE welcomed Polo’s decision but said that other issues should also be looked into. “We challenge them to likewise strictly enforce the mandated minimum wage of $400 (Dh1,468) for housemaids and closely monitor them after deployment,” Nel Morona, country coordinator for Migrante-UAE, told Gulf News.