Kasambahay situation now and actions needed

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

LAST column, we discussed our vision for our kasambahay (house help) in the next 20 years and some rosy developments. This was a result of some discussions at the recently concluded “Domestic Work Stakeholder Workshop Towards a Participatory Assessment of the Kasambahay Situation in the Philippines” attended by representatives of kasambahays, household employers, civil society and government.

Here are some not-so-satisfactory situations happening between kasambahays and their household employers. For kasambahays: lack of bargaining power, limited opportunities for personal development, uneven playing field, enjoy more respect than in previous time but are still being looked down upon, many still are not enrolled with SSS, Philhealth and Pag-ibig, wages not enough for the kind of work they are doing, some still do not enjoy the benefits of private sleeping quarters, work hours are long, maltreatment, too many bosses especially if it is a big family.

From household employers: They come without skills, (didn’t even know how to use rice cooker) and so you teach them patiently and when they learn, they leave readily. They are always using their cell phones even while cooking, ironing, cleaning, etc.; then they get advance payment to buy “load.” Then they complain about wages not enough to support the family they left behind in the province. Who will pay for the things they damage while working (e.g. microwave oven exploded because they forgot to remove the metal spoon from the dish)? They are oftentimes watching their favorite teleserye. They are treated like family and in some small households they eat with the family. They are always dreaming of working abroad. They are always making salary advances, sometimes exceeding their pay, for various reasons. How could you enroll them with SSS, etc. if they could not produce a birth certificate which is a requirement? Many households need kasambahays because both mother and father (and even grown children) are working to make both ends meet.

Even worse is that there are many very young children (below 15) working now as kasambahays. Sometimes, though, the parents come to the household and say, “I can’t afford to feed, clothe and send them to school, so I am giving them to you.” What can a household head do?

To me, it is not much different from some parents in Boracay and other tourist places who pimp for their very young children to very old tourists. Is being a kasambahay a better alternative to prostitution? Kasalanan ba uli ito ni PNoy? (Could President Aquino again be blamed for this situation? He-he-he-he!)

Despite the Kasambahay Law, the situation is seemingly not getting any better. Many household employers and kasambahays alike, including barangay officials, still do not know the full extent of the law (emphasis is only on the new wage standard and enrolment in social protection agencies). There is a lack of training facilities that would offer courses to become first-rate kasambahays. (I remember that the family of Conchitina Sevilla Bernardo used to offer such short courses for kasambahays in their Karilagan School.) There are still no standard position description and proper hiring procedures, e.g. no psychological tests, no medical tests, etc. Kasambahays are hired on the spot because of urgent need.

What would help in making the work (and life) of a kasambahay more convenient and more rewarding financially, psychologically, fostering a better relationship between kasambahay and the household employer? The Department of Labor and Employment, perhaps through the barangays, should embark on a massive and rigorous campaign about the law and its implementing rules. Tighter supervision on the accountabilities of kasambahay recruiters should be imposed. SSS could accept a substitute for birth certificate, e.g. affidavits for would-be kasambahay members. There should be standardized skills assessment, and payment could be according to skill and seniority. Public schools could offer weekend or evening classes for kasambahays to finish high school, at least, to help them realize their dreams.

This tripartite conference, with the DOLE, aims to embark on a formal monitoring and evaluation program to eventually unearth more issues and improve on the law.

Join us at the Employers Confederation of the Philippines’ National Conference of Employers (ECOP NCE) to be held this May 14-15 at the Marriot Hotel. It is a two-day event on discussions of the theme: “Creating More Wealth; Creating More Jobs.” CEOs and board chairs of global and local companies (Edgar Chua of Shell, Marife Zamora of Convergys, Maria Fe-Agudo of Hyundai, Suresh Narayanan of Nestle) will share their insights at the CEO Forum: The ever-changing role of employers in addressing societal issues. Economists Cielito Habito and Benjamin Diokno are plenary session speakers on job creation, poverty alleviation and preserving development gains amidst regional economic changes. DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz will zero in on ensuring inclusive growth through enhanced employment and employability.

Societal partners DOLE Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunsad III, Management Association of the Philippines president Francisco del Rosario, Jr., Federation of Free Workers president emeritus Allan Montano, ILO country director Lawrence Jeff Johnson and Serving Humanity through Empowerment and Development president Ruben de Lara will share their views on policy recommendations for resolving employment and poverty issues.

Finally, PLDT chair Manny Pangilinan will talk about doing well and doing good: How corporations can help address poverty and unemployment. Then Vice President Jejomar Binay will deliver the closing keynote address.

For details and to join, please call or text Lani Rivera of ECOP at (0917) 8730907.
Feedback to moje629@gmail.com.


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