By Michelle Ortiz
I write this letter to get the attention of employers, on behalf of my fellow domestic workers, many of who can relate to this situation.
I’ve been working in Singapore for nearly 8 years, with 2 different employers and during my days off I often visit Lucky Plaza. There, I always talk to other Filipina’s. After we get to know each other, we like to talk about our jobs, our current situation living with our employers, and whether we are well-treated or maltreated. But this is not the main topic for us. If you ask a domestic worker whether their employers are good to them, they cannot answer you directly. They will respond with ‘I have no choice because I am afraid my employer won’t release me, and will send me home. So I have to bear with it, even though I’m unhappy.’
Honestly speaking, this is the most common problem for foreign domestic workers in Singapore, because some employers refuse to sign the release papers This means the domestic worker has no chance to find a new employer, their only choice is to renew or continue working with the current employer.
This is very unfair to us, because going back home, and reapplying for a job in Singapore again, is just wasting time, money and effort. There are a lot of papers to process, and some requirements that we need to comply to again.
Why is it so difficult for the employers to issue a release paper for their helper if they wish to transfer? Maybe they have their own reasons, but it is difficult to understand why they need to make things so difficult, where they can make it easy. Both parties could benefit. The employer can save money, by signing the release paper, instead of having to buy the plane ticket to send them home. This way, both parties can save time and money.
I will not generalise, but I know that many foreign domestic workers can relate to this. I wish that all employers could open their heart and mind, and consider this request. Also, I hope that MOM will request from employers to allow their domestic workers for transfer, if they wish to do so, especially those who have finished their contract.
I know that we all come here to work for a living, and earn money for our family back home, that’s why most of us just bear with it, even when we’re not satisfied, or ill-treated. Because we have no choice. I hope the employers of Singapore can hear us, and have a heart.
Thank you and May God bless us all.