Fee dispute may disrupt hiring of Filipino helpers

Staff writer, with CNA, MANILA

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 - Page 5

A Philippine labor official on Wednesday said his country might stop allowing people to work as domestic helpers in Taiwan, following disagreements on who should cover the commissions and fees required for those wanting to work in Taiwan.

At a meeting with the Council of Labor Affairs on Nov. 5, Philippine Secretary of Labor and Employment Rosalinda Baldoz said that Taiwanese employers should cover workers’ expenses, including fees to labor brokers, travel document fees, round-trip tickets and health-check fees.

Council officials said that such a proposal was unreasonable and a follow-up meeting scheduled for the following day was canceled.

An unnamed Philippine labor official told the Central News Agency his country might be forced to stop supplying domestic helpers to protect their rights if Taiwan cannot cooperate on the payment issue.

Under Philippine labor laws, overseas employers are obligated to shoulder all the costs of hiring Filipino workers, the official said.

However, people who wish to work in Taiwan have to pay US$1,457 in fees and commissions — about three times their monthly salary in Taiwan — before arriving, the official said.

They then have to pay more money once they are in Taiwan.

A fee of NT$1,800 per month is deducted in the first year of employment, NT$1,700 per month in the second year and NT$1,500 per month in the third. A monthly boarding fee of NT$4,500 is levied on those working in factories, the official said.

Amadeo Perez, chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, said that he is working to establish some middle ground with Taiwanese officials in the hope he can secure a decrease in commission fees.

An estimated 90,000 Filipinos are working in Taiwan; 20,000 of them domestic helpers who are paid US$480 a month.