clash of civilizations - the maid issue

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rudiruessel
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clash of civilizations - the maid issue

Post by rudiruessel » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 12:52 am

hi,

i am currently engaged in a mayor discussion about the singapore framework for employing maids and how it could be matched with western thinking about human rights.

The issue is complicated since i am westerner while my wife (though having spent a decade in europe) has a very different view on rights and responsibilities of domestic helpers.

I had some concerns with employing a live-in maid and taking all the responsibilities imposed by MOM from the beginning, but finally accepted the fact that 2 full time working parents have little choice in Singapore.

Our maid is from the philipines and has contractually agreed not to have a day off.

In general, her services are quite average, she seems to take good care of our daughter, which is most important, while cleaning, cooking and in self initiative are probably her weaknesses.

We have given her quite a few perks like bringing her on holidays and even a extraordinary bonus of SGD 500 after 6 months. I would like her performance to improve (and i am disappointed that the perks had little effect) but i tend to believe that for SGD 370 a month, you shouldn’t expect a perfect housekeeping manager in the first place.

After 6months, our maid has asked to have 1 off day per month, and my wife has reacted very fierce by telling her that if she has a problem with her contract, she can go back to her home country.

My wife is very worried about the 'bad influence' our maid may be exposed to when spending sundays off by herself (like boyfriend & and bringing foreigners to our flat when we are not around). So she is strictly against any day off.

I do share some of her concerns ( in fact,i don’t really care about a boyfriend, but strangers in our house are not acceptable at all since my daughter would be around as well).

On the other hand, I feel very strongly the denial of any private life is against the basic needs of any human being (in fact, i fully agree to recent bashing of MOM by Human Rights Watch and others) while my wife strongly believes that there is no other way to deal with a domestic helper.

I would be very interested to learn how other people have dealt with this kind of situations.

cheers

rudiruessel

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sundaymorningstaple
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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 9:55 am

rudiruessel,

I think it would do you good to type in the word "Maid" in the search function in the upper left hand side of this page then have a good read. You will find the majority of our opinions on this subject in great depth. Rather than rehash why not try this thread to start and then go on the the many other threads already dealing with this issue.

http://www.singaporeexpats.com/forum/ft ... light=maid

sms
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Post by rudiruessel » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 12:07 pm

thanks for the link but i am more interested to learn how people have handled this in a mixed marriage setting - - as you will understand, the problem is on compromising on very fundamental values, which makes me feel quite sick

if i was to decide on my own, i would know what to do anyway

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Post by Baron Greenback » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 12:38 pm

the problem is on compromising on very fundamental values, which makes me feel quite sick
Then talk to your wife, seems obvious to me.

Sorry for the short reply but wind up threads about problems with maids are sooo last season sweetie :wink:
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Post by dot dot dot » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 12:39 pm

Last edited by dot dot dot on Thu, 25 May 2006 7:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by CardZeus » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 1:58 pm

Eric from the Netherlands wrote:You agreed on contractual basis not to give her a day per month off? You call a 500 SGD bonus 'extraordinary'? You have someone full time (literally) working for you at a rate of 370 SGD per month?

So where's the humanity you mentioned?

Eric
Well said...I'd call you a modern-day slavemaster. Shame on you.
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Post by rudiruessel » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 2:10 pm

dont really understand this bashing, but let me explain a bit more

- she gets 370/month wich i understand to be standard rate
- she gets a SGD 100 monthly bonus which we put in her savings account
- actually, she gets another SGD 400 a month which is taken away by Singapore government by a special income tax called maid levy ... a tax rate which is higher than for any other taxpayer in singapore

- she doesnt need to spend a single cent for personal needs or clothes
- she will dine/lunch out almost every week, whenever we do
- she has joined us on holidays in thailand and malaysia during the past 6 months
- she was offered a free paid homeleave for the 2 weeks while we are going back to europe, given the choice, she preferred to take the money equivalent to the price of a ticket and stay in singapore
- i believe she has enough breaks during the day since our 2 year old daughter is going to half day playschool


in my opinion these are not abusive working conditions ... except for the weekly off day issue which is my agenda.

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Post by CardZeus » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 2:35 pm

rudiruessel wrote:dont really understand this bashing, but let me explain a bit more

- she gets 370/month wich i understand to be standard rate - might be 'standard' but still a pittance
- she gets a SGD 100 monthly bonus which we put in her savings account - why don't you just give it to her to put in her savings account if she wants - oh I forgot she probably never gets a chance to leave the house
- she doesnt need to spend a single cent for personal needs or clothes - well this statement is just laughable - so you provide for all her personal needs and buy her all the clothes she wants? And let her choose what she wants??
- she will dine/lunch out almost every week, whenever we do - no choice there then..
- she has joined us on holidays in thailand and malaysia during the past 6 months - amazing how you people think that because she's accompanying you on holiday that it's a holiday for her!
- she was offered a free paid homeleave for the 2 weeks while we are going back to europe, given the choice, she preferred to take the money equivalent to the price of a ticket and stay in singapore - be sure she doesn't get pregnant while you're away
- i believe she has enough breaks during the day since our 2 year old daughter is going to half day playschool - dumbstruck


in my opinion these are not abusive working conditions ... in my opinion they are
:delete:
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Post by Strong Eagle » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 2:54 pm

Actually, all other issues aside, $370 per month disposable income is not bad. Employers are required to provide room, board, and medical.

Compare this to someone living on $2000 per month around here. By the time you get through with housing, food, utilities etc, there will often be less than $370 per month disposable income.

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Post by rudiruessel » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 3:17 pm

CardZeus wrote:
rudiruessel wrote:dont really understand this bashing, but let me explain a bit more

- she gets 370/month wich i understand to be standard rate - might be 'standard' but still a pittance and singapore government taxes away another 400 SGD which should be hers in fact ...
- she gets a SGD 100 monthly bonus which we put in her savings account - why don't you just give it to her to put in her savings account if she wants - oh I forgot she probably never gets a chance to leave the house she probably spends her afternoons downstairs chatting with her girlfriends, but we dont have a bank in our condo ...
- she doesnt need to spend a single cent for personal needs or clothes - well this statement is just laughable - so you provide for all her personal needs and buy her all the clothes she wants? And let her choose what she wants?? she will put her personal needs on our weekly shopping list - as for the clothes, she will choose what she wants, and if she wants nike we dont buy it because we dont wear branded either ...
- she will dine/lunch out almost every week, whenever we do - no choice there then..
- she has joined us on holidays in thailand and malaysia during the past 6 months - amazing how you people think that because she's accompanying you on holiday that it's a holiday for her! i didnt have the impression it was a trip to hell for her ... no washing/cooking/cleaning and a little bit of watching our baby shared with us
- she was offered a free paid homeleave for the 2 weeks while we are going back to europe, given the choice, she preferred to take the money equivalent to the price of a ticket and stay in singapore - be sure she doesn't get pregnant while you're away we went to the doctor with her and paid for her pills and explained her that there is nothing we can do for her if she decides to become pregnant - any better ideas?
- i believe she has enough breaks during the day since our 2 year old daughter is going to half day playschool - dumbstruck


in my opinion these are not abusive working conditions ... in my opinion they are
:delete:

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Post by k1w1 » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 6:05 pm

The salary you mentioned is slightly lower than normal, for Filipina maids. The maid levy is 300 per month. That is not her tax, it is yours.

Frankly, I am appalled that you and your wife think there is nothing wrong with forcing someone to stay in a house with your young daughter and not give her a day off. Wouldn't you both go crazy - and she's YOUR child! When I was at home with my own children, I still needed a sitter to come in for an afternoon a week so I could get a coffee by myself. It is not a luxury - time off. You would call it a lunch break, I believe. Let's face it: she's not wathching TV all morning long, is she? She's got cleaning and cooking to do.

Seriously, it's clear the reason you are worried about her being influenced by other maids is because you both know she is getting a bum deal, and so do her friends.

Your problem? Your wife expects more of a maid than she is prepared to do herself. Who the hell "gets fierce" at their maid? Our maid would have to do something pretty atrocious for that - something which would require her to be sent home immediately. If you're so upset with her initiative, then replace her. Be warned though: experienced, intelligent maids want time off and competitive salaries.

As SE said: her salary is not THAT bad, but it's not amazing either. What she really wants is a day away from you, denial of which, is horrible.

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Post by jpatokal » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 8:40 pm

<rant>
I think the maid levy is absolutely disgraceful. I understand the rationale of limiting the number of maids in Singapore (even if I don't fully agree with it), but the obvious and humane thing would be to enforce a minimum wage, instead of leeching off the back of desperately poor people. :x
</rant>

Anyway, if your wife's primary concern is that she'll bring in strangers to the house, why not give her a day off on those days when you are around? Of course nothing stops you from going out, but if she thinks you're in she won't be bringing anybody else either.

I'm also rather surprised that a Filipina maid agreed to no days off in the first place, many if not most have Sundays off so they can attend church.
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Post by rudiruessel » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 9:16 pm

@ the tax - sorry, but the label of whos is paying the tax is irrelevant,the government is imposing a high income tax on maids which nobody else has to pay in this country. or is your corporate employer paying a "employment tax" on you? anyway, this is not the point here and belongs to the singapore politics forum

@ 'you and your wife think there is nothing wrong' - guess i made it clear enough this is not my opinion, and for me, there is no doubt anybody deserves at least a full day off a week. and i do agree that working with children can be very stressful

@ being fierce to the maid: i was interfering and told her in front of the maid that anybody in our flat can ask for anything on his/her mind without being shouted at

so, lets look at the result:

- i am very disappointed with my wife since i wasnt aware that there are two kinds of people in her world - the ones which deserve respect and other ones which deserve to be treated badly,for the sole reason that they dont have enough negotiationg power. its a real surprise to me, she has supported a lot of developing countries charity since i knew her,but when it comes to maids, everything is different all of a sudden

- i understand that she feels threatened by the maid, she told me that i treat the maid better than her (one of the reasons: i bought some expensive sweets for her birthday). trust me, i have no intentions whatsoever with our maid.i have read in the web that this kind of jealousy issues sometimes surface since, after all,we are spending most of our free time in a 2+1+1 setting,and i have no clue what went wrong here.

- since there doesnt seem to be a way out of this mess, i have suggested to send the maid home, pay her the salary which wasr etained by the maid agency for her first 6 or 7 months (i dont understand why she should have worked for us and receive close to zip after all this) and end this madness for everybody involved. -- u know the result - the whole chinese part of my family has declared me nuts for throwing money after a lazy maid!

So, may i ask all the people with high morals on this thread to have a look at the first post - its called clash of civilizations, and unfortunately, it happens within my family.

I would be really interested to share my experience with other people in a similar situation.

Thanks

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 13 Apr 2006 11:40 pm

rudiruessel wrote:@ the tax - sorry, but the label of whos is paying the tax is irrelevant,the government is imposing a high income tax on maids which nobody else has to pay in this country. or is your corporate employer paying a "employment tax" on you? anyway, this is not the point here and belongs to the singapore politics forumI would be really interested to share my experience with other people in a similar situation.

So, may i ask all the people with high morals on this thread to have a look at the first post - its called clash of civilizations, and unfortunately, it happens within my family.

I would be really interested to share my experience with other people in a similar situation.

Thanks
Was going to stay very clear of this discussion this time but one or two things need clarification. Image

First of all, every foreign national working here in Singapore on less than an EP (Employment Pass) e.g., Work Permit and "S" Pass holders all have to have levies of varying degrees paid by the employers (from $50 for "S" pass up, $100 & $240 for unskilled & semiskilled and $370 for FDW's (Foreign Domestic Workers). So I guess your first statement is total bollocks.

On your second statement it is also total bollocks as it is a clash between your wife and yourself. You obviously did not know who you were marrying prior to taking your vows. Before you jump on your High Horse, I am also married to a Singaporean and have had maids in the past (albiet 20 years ago - Fillipina's -2 of them). I never had a problem with giving my maid Sundays off and neither did my wife. Sure it is a risk, but after all, the maid is not a sub-human species (The local who mis-treats their maids is the sub-human one). These are hopefully the minority but I have to admit the percentage is higher than most countries hence the bad rep here.

On the gamble of raising the roof in condemnation from a lot of the regulars, I have to ask - is your wife a christian? Or a christian convert or non-christian?

:mad:
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Post by rudiruessel » Fri, 14 Apr 2006 12:33 am

strong eagle - not sure what raised your blood pressure,if you consider my remark about the chinese part of my family an insult, please accept my apologies - i amjust stating a fact here,and the reasons why they do it could be complex ...


@ taxes - me being on EP initially (now PR) being charged being charged ZIP for a annual income of 100k+, while our maid (implicitly) being charged close to 50% of her meager income ... i leave it to the audience ( if anybody still cares to read this thread) to judge

@ being a christian - i am not sure its a valid criteria to judge people in the first place. i come from a country which is 95% christian and i doubt if it makes for better people simply because of that ...

as for my wife and me - i was brought up with christian values, but would consider myself free thinker. my wife had some exposure to christianity (went to sunday school when she was a child) and i understand she agrees to many christian values, but is not agreeable to some opinions of the 'official'catholic church ...


at the end of the day, i guess any religion will teach respect for others, and there are hypocrats in any of them ... so i have come to think that the religion tells you very little about a person .... so, we are what we do, dont you agree?

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