Domestic workers

Domestic worker unions warn of false job promises by ‘immigration mafia’

Migrant associations in Macao today (Thursday) warned of false job promises from the ‘immigration mafia’, which grew as soon as it was announced that the territory’s borders would be open to domestic workers.

The Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (UTMI) today posted a warning to the Indonesian community considering emigrating to Macau on the social network Facebook, warning against “ghost middlemen”.

“Ads with false promises, which was already happening before the Covid-19 pandemic, started to multiply as soon as the Macau government announced the opening for housekeepers. They ask for a lot of money, like 26 million Indonesian rupees ($1,796) to manage the legal process, and people are left with no money and no jobs, because the intermediaries disappear,” Yosa Wari Yanti explained.

On Sunday, UTMI met with Indonesian consulate officials whom they asked for measures to ensure the process is safe to prevent this type of fraud.

The progressive Macau Domestic Workers Union shares similar fears but told Lusa it is also concerned about abuses by Macau recruitment agencies.

“Our concern is very great, especially because some agencies take money from workers even without the documents being transmitted or the process being completed,” said Filipino Jassy Santos, lamenting that the authorities did not ensure ” a policy that would protect workers”.

Macau opened its borders to all domestic workers in May, but the measure resulted in just over six dozen applications, just over half of which were also approved.

The opening to domestic workers contrasts with the ban on foreigners (with the recent exception of Portuguese) and non-residents entering the territory, which has maintained a “zero case” Covid-19 policy since 2020.

The measure also contrasts with the political debate on the need to strengthen the hiring of local workers, but in line with parliamentary debates on the need to relax restrictions on the entry of domestic workers, a workforce closely Macau-related to the Filipino, Indonesian and Vietnamese communities, who earn wages well below the territory’s median monthly wage.

According to UTMI data, a domestic worker received between MOP 3,000 (USD 371) and MOP 5,000 per month.

With the current labor shortage, the monthly salary is likely to have increased to between MOP 4,000 and MOP 6,000. According to the statistics and census office, the median monthly income of the employed population was 16,000 patacas (1,843 euros).

But for the progressive Macau Domestic Workers Union “little has changed” with the pandemic in terms of wages and protection of domestic workers, recalling the fact that these workers were excluded from the minimum wage law, which came into force in November 2020.