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Domestic migrant workers in Thailand, Malaysia ‘underpaid’

Myanmar Times, Myanmar, 29 September 2017 - Most domestic workers, including Myanmar migrant workers, in Thailand and Malaysia are not getting even their basic salaries, Rory Mungoven, liaison officer of the International Labor Organization (ILO), said on Thursday.

“The average working  hours of migrant workers in Thailand and Malaysia are 12 hours and 15 hours respectively,” Mungoven said at a forum entitled “Towards Achieving Decent Work for Domestic Workers in ASEAN” held in Nay Pyi Taw.

“Only 40 percent of them get one day holiday in a week and most of them don’t even get their basic salary,” he said.

As there is no stipulation for domestic workers in the labour laws of these countries, migrant workers cannot enjoy labour protection rights as well as the remedial rights if violated.

One of the stipulations of ILO states that the work of domestic helpers should be recognised and they should enjoy equal rights as other workers.

It was agreed and signed by the Philippines in ASEAN, two countries from Africa, seven countries from Europe and 14 countries from South America.

“Housekeeping work supports million of women in Asia for their families’ livelihood. Without proper protection, women are vulnerable to violence,” Mungoven said.

Prohibiting women from working is not a solution, the ILO liaison officer said, adding that the solution is to recognise house maid job and to protect them.

Myanmar women are working in neighbouring countries as house maids either legally or illegally, said Union Minister for  Labor, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe.

People with limited education, low job opportunity and those facing family financial difficulties usually work as house maids, he said.

“We have to recognise the labour of our house maids working in foreign countries,” U Thein Swe said.

After sending house maids to Singapore in 2013 and Hong Kong in 2014, it had been stopped due to labour disputes and rights violation cases. Due to the ban, more under-aged  girls are sent illegally overseas to work as domestic helpers and several workers were exposed to abuses by their employers.

Among over nine million domestic workers in Southeast Asia and Pacific region, over two million are migrant workers. In ASEAN, 20pc of migrant domestic workers are women.

Thailand is the first destination for Myanmar migrant workers and Malaysia the second.

Minimum wages in ASEAN

Singapore - S$460 to S$500 per month (house maid).
Thailand - 300 baht per day (labourer).
Malaysia - 900 ringgit per month.


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