The recent demands by the Indonesian government to increase maid’s salaries to RM800 a month hit a raw nerve in most parties especially those who are heavily dependent on foreign maids. It is a big jump, almost double, from what the maids are currently being paid and would certainly put a hefty dent in most families’ budgets. Read on below for the concerns raised and indirect impact this would have on the average man on the street.
Mothers To Quit Working?
Most city women work and unfortunately, there is a new generation of children who are being brought up by these foreign maids instead of their own mothers. At the current rates of RM500 or less, it still makes economic sense for the mother to work. However, at rates of RM800 a month coupled with agency fees, some parties are arguing that it might be more economical for mothers not to work. From a non-financial perspective, it is better for the children, however from a financial view, household incomes would likely drop and so would the overall workforce.
Higher Costs of Living?
Currently, lots of hawkers and restaurants employ these Indonesian maids as they are cheap, speak Malay and many have even picked up Mandarin and Cantonese! In fact, order from your favourite stall in a hawker centre or coffee shop and chances are, that char kuey teow you ordered was fried to perfection by an Indonesian worker! At RM800 per month, most stall owners and coffee shops would likely pass on the wage increase back to the customers by increasing the costs of their food and drinks. Ultimately, the pockets of the man on the street are hit once again!
Minimum Wage For Malaysians?
To date, there is no minimum wage for Malaysians despite many parties concerted efforts to fight for one. Some workers in Malaysia are paid only RM350 to RM400 a month which is way below what the minimum survival rate is at RM750 to RM800 per month. These are workers who need to pay for food, lodging and transportation compared to a maid who gets all that for free from her employer. The maid’s RM800 a month is almost net! If there is a move to increase salaries, shouldn’t the local workforce be considered first before bowing to the demands from Indonesia?
Ultimately, the reason why Indonesia can make these demands is because the country is dependent on their maids. Instead of relying on maids, all parties and employers should look into how they can assist their employees by providing more reliable child care and nurseries. After all, these are tax-deductible and most employees would certainly prefer leaving their children in their company’s child care as opposed to a maid. It will be interesting to watch how this wage demand unfolds and how the man on the street will ultimately be affected.