Dubai: Recruitment agencies that hire Filipina maids have appealed to the Philippine government to give them a clear picture on whether or not they can resume sending maids to the UAE after having suffered losses for more than two years.
Around 40 recruitment agencies across the UAE have met to form the Cooperation Among Foreign Recruitment Agencies (CAFRA) to express their collected sentiment on the ongoing suspension on deploying maids from the Philippines to the UAE.
Employers in the UAE have not been able to legally and directly hire maids from the Philippines since June 2014 due to the conflicting recruitment rules in the UAE and labour-sending countries like the Philippines.
The issue surfaced when the UAE Ministry of Interior introduced a unified contract for domestic workers that led to the suspension of various embassies’ role in verifying and attesting contracts, including the Philippines.
This is contrary to Philippine domestic laws that dictate that labour agencies abroad should verify and record all contracts of maids to protect them, hence the suspension of deployment.
In August this year, Labour Attache Ofelia Domingo said discussions on resolving this matter are still ongoing between the two governments.
But the non-deployment has squeezed recruitment agencies dry for more than two years, the agencies said.
“Legitimate recruitment agencies [like us] have been suffering for two years and six months and we don’t know what our status is. We’ve been patiently waiting for the decision of our government for the resumption [of deployment] but it seems we are waiting in vain,” CAFRA said in a statement sent to Gulf News.
The group emphasised that the Philippine government did not issue an official board resolution to stop sending maids to the UAE nor did the Department of Labour and Employment issue any official orders in this regard; but the suspension is just being carried out selectively, the group said.
“VIPs, diplomats, and returning workers have been able to hire maids from the Philippines, while the rest of the residents have not. So there is selective deployment. What we are requesting the Philippine government is to just give us official communication if they are really stopping deployment for good or if it would resume it, when?” Rose Usman, representative and spokesperson of CAFRA, told Gulf News.
“We’ve been left hanging for the past two years. It’s now the third year. We’ve been asked to wait for the resolution, which we have. But until when? How long do we have to wait?” she added.
Domingo said while it is true that the Philippines does not prohibit deploying maids to “exempted individuals”, she refused to comment on the lifting of the suspension. “The decision to send maids again will come from Manila. I’m just waiting for that order,” she told Gulf News.
Gulf News repeatedly contacted the labour office in Manila but could not get an official comment as of press time.
Usman said agencies have lost millions of dirhams over the years since the suspension. Around 10 per cent of recruitment agencies have changed their business models just to cope.
The suspension has also led to an increase in trafficked persons to the UAE for those desperate to get Filipina maids.
“There are illegal recruiters who charge Dh20,000 to Dh25,000 to get a Filipina maid here because it’s so hard to hire one legally. The average fee among legal recruitment agencies back then was just Dh7,500,” Usman said.
Based on figures from the Philippine labour office, around 60 to 80 per cent of the distressed Filipinas at the shelter are maids who are victims of human trafficking.