Burmese Maids Prepare for Work in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong, Singapore, Burma, Myanmar, domestic helpers, maids, labor, employment, migrant workers

A maid from the Philippines works at her employer’s house in Singapore in this 2008 photo. (Photo: Reuters)

RANGOON — Burmese domestic helpers are preparing to move abroad to Hong Kong, the second place after Singapore where the Burma government has allowed them to apply for work abroad.

The Burma government is expanding options for local domestic helpers in a bid to reduce the unemployment rate at home and to discourage illegal labor in neighboring countries.

Myo Aung, deputy director of the Department of Labor at the Ministry of Labor, said 200 domestic helpers would be allowed to work in Hong Kong initially, with 60 of them starting their jobs next month through Burmese employment agency Gold Mine.

“We are respecting the demand,” he told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday. “There’s demand in Hong Kong for Myanmar [Burmese] domestic helpers because the Burmese have a family spirit, pure minds and a solid work ethic.”

The Ministry of Labor gave preference to Hong Kong because the region is known for offering a relatively high salary for domestic helpers, with maids earning about US$500 per month as opposed to about $300 in Singapore.

The Burma consulate in Hong Kong has said the region enforces labor laws to protect domestic helpers, who have faced harsh conditions in some other countries in Asia.

The Department of Occupational Safety and Health at Burma’s Ministry of Labor says it plans to station a labor ambassador in Singapore, Hong Kong and any country where Burmese domestic helpers are allowed to apply for work in the future.

“We contacted the [Burmese] consulate in Hong Kong and will find a solution if the domestic helpers face abuse. This is the most important for Myanmar workers,” Win Kyaing, director of the department, told The Irrawaddy. “We are taking full responsibility, whether they are legal workers or not. But it’s better if they are legal, so we can protect them.”

Gold Mine, the employment agency, will receive the first 60 domestic helpers in January, offering a two-year contract.

“We will take care of the workers 24 hours a day—they can inform our office if they face any problem. We also have Myanmar translators,” a spokesman for the agency said.

The agency will cover up-front relocation costs from Burma to Hong Kong, which will then be deducted from the first four months of salary, in line with standards of the Ministry of Labor. Workers can also send their earnings back to their families in Burma, free of charge. They will work six days a week, with double pay for overtime.

Aye Aye Than, who will provide training through the employment agency, said it would be important for domestic helpers to learn English and Chinese language skills.

“We accept applicants who have passed eighth or ninth standard, but one third of applicants have graduated and already passed tenth standard,” she said. Tenth standard is the final year of school before university in Burma.

Burma has already sent more than 200 domestic helpers to Singapore since they were first allowed to apply for work there earlier this year.

Demand for domestic helpers is high in Hong Kong after Indonesia announced it would prohibit Indonesian maids from working abroad after 2017. Domestic helpers from the Philippines are also trying to secure work in the Macao industrial zones, where the salary is slightly higher than in Hong Kong.


6 Responses to Burmese Maids Prepare for Work in Hong Kong

  1. Incompetent USDP government is trying to sell the labor of Burmese women to Chinese bosses. Many maids have been treated like slaves. Many times, they got raped. But many women did not dare to speak out their ordeals because of cultural issues. Instead of uplifting the lives of the citizens, USDP fails to meet the hope and expectation of the people in Myanmar. Burmese women are not for sale, or are they for sale to foreign wealthy people?

  2. All Asians are created equal except for the Chinese!
    This is the modern form of human trafficking for menial labour. Indonesia is doing the right thing. This kind of exploitation of poor helpless young woman should be banned. These maids have practically no rights in Singapore or Hongkong. Suu Kyi, who is a Burmese woman (but not young or poor lol) should strongly denounce this sort of exploitation of fellow Burmese women.

  3. USDP and the government is the same body, trying to sell Burmese women in world market to do XXXXXXX against the Burmese culture. As for them they always like Pauk-Faw to make unofficial babies. Anyway it is better than any thing to have jobs at least. Body id body, not to any damages because the secret thing is covered by cloth.

  4. So much natural resources in stock or deposit in Burma, still selling children as slaves to other countries. Ne Win used to preach about Capitalist exploitation of Burmese economy and made people slaves. Now few uniform changed USDP men are holding Burmese economy in their hands and exploiting as they wish. The True Thieves.

  5. Burmese government has been selling natural resources to their Pauk-phaws and has been allowing them to literally rape Burma since March 1962 and up to this moment. Burmese women are also the country’s precious ‘natural resources’, so why would they hesitate to sell them to Pauk-phaws to treat them as slaves, under-paid n over-worked housemaids and forced labors at factories and cottage industries, as mistresses at home and as forced n unwilling prostitutes in brothels so long as the Burmese government and their cronies can dig gold out of the Burmese women?

    I have been away from Burma for almost 40 decades in countries where housemaids are ILL-treated and used as sex toys. I have closely seen and know tens of thousands of these cases during this period involving victims from Sri Lanka, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, etc. Inhuman treatments and heart-wrenching true stories. I don’t want this to happen to any woman. I plead to Burmese women not to be attracted and seduced by greedy manpower recruiting agents. Stay in your motherland, work hard to make whatever little you can for your families- this dire hardship is far better than being in Pauk-phaws’ beds every night, used and abused by his clients, work 20 hours like a dog for little food, no salary, no break, no passport to run away, literally shackled and enslaved. Once you get into that situation (may GOD forbid) you would wish your mother did not give birth to you. Burmese Embassy and Consulate Labor Attaches for help? They are out of your reach! Worse, they do not want to know about your case. They are too busy with wine, women, bribes, illegal shipments of goods, etc. They don’t want ‘headaches’. Even if you got in contact with them, they would only care to get their share in the bed with you and what little is in your wallet. They are the most merciless n heartless Burmese I have met and known outside Burma.

    Local police will be another nightmare for you. It is always your fault. You committed crime. There is no evidence n witness to prove maltreatment and abuses by your sponsors. All fingers pointing at you. Same story again – they would only care to get their share in the bed with you and what little is in your wallet.

    Lack of communication skill – spoken and written English n local language – is another serious and damaging drawback. You cannot complain exactly and as properly as you want to. You sign (or forced to sign) contracts, statements and reports their content you don’t know – whether they are legally in your favor/benefit or against you.

    Remember you have to pay back the agents in Burma through your nose for the inflated, fictitious and fabricated expenses, fees, charges, fares, etc. You would rather prefer to burn in hell then you n your family being tormented by the agents.

    My dear Burmese Sisters, please do not put yourself in the situation I described above.

    Readers in and outside Burma: I realize the above request/plead/warnings would not reach the ears of our Burmese Sisters for who this is intended due to lack of knowledge of English. Please help them through your contacts inside the country and create full awareness among them about what awaits them if they go to HK, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Middle East, etc. Please stop n save our Burmese Sisters getting from pan into fire.

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