Myanmar hopes for Singapore MOU to better protect domestic maids

YANGON: Myanmar wants to initiate an agreement with Singapore, to offer better protection for its domestic maids working in the city-state.

The Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation hopes to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with its counterpart, the Association of Employment Agencies Singapore in one to two months. The federation has already signed an MOU with one of its counterparts in Hong Kong.

Singapore is home to over 30,000 Myanmar maids but many of them don’t have proper approval from the Myanmar government to work overseas. They have little recourse, if employers mistreat or deprive them of proper salaries.

The federation hopes an MOU will stipulate clauses like minimum pay, official days off and legal redress.

“We want to start an MOU as soon as possible so… we can control their problems, we can solve their problems,” said Soe Myint Aung, vice chairman of the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation.

Since early last year, Nice Way Employment Agency has sent over 70 maids to work in Singapore. It is currently training about 60 more maids who are waiting for the Myanmar government to issue official overseas working documents.

Such agencies believe an MOU will be beneficial.

“The government may become more confident and issue more overseas work cards quickly to the Myanmar maids. The Myanmar women can also work safely in a foreign country. With the work cards, the maids don’t have to waste their time here and can get a job quickly and earn a salary,” said Myat Myat Moe, general manager of Nice Way Employment Agency.

Myanmar domestic maid trainee Win Pa Pa, 23, is raring to work in Singapore. The former garment factory worker used to earn only about US$120 (S$148) a month. But if she works as a domestic maid in Singapore, she can hope to earn about US$363 (S$449) monthly.

“I want to work in Singapore because I think it’s a safe country and I can earn more money,” she said.

“I heard there are some problems between maids and employers in Singapore but I’m not afraid because the trainers advise us on these problems. My agent and boss are in Singapore and if I have problems with employers, I will contact my boss and he will take care of us.”

Domiestic maid trainees learn basic skills like how to care for an elderly person. In fact, many of them have never experienced life as a domestic worker. But agencies say that more are willing to step forward in order to try their hands at this in the hope of earning higher wages as well as to give themselves and their families, a better living.


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