Tackling language, training issues of Cambodian maids

The Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) welcomes the move by the Ministry of Manpower to have Cambodia as the 13th source country for foreign domestic workers (FDWs) to help ease the demand for FDWs here ("NGOs: Need to protect Cambodian maids better"; Feb 1).

Prior to the move, CDE had conducted overseas study trips to Cambodia to meet related government agencies, employment agencies and other non-governmental organisations to better understand the situation there.

CDE acknowledges that there will be teething issues for both employers and FDWs, especially in the initial stages, and has highlighted the potential challenges, such as the language barrier and differing skills certification levels, to our Cambodian counterparts.

While we understand that our Cambodian counterparts have embarked on an English training programme for their FDWs, CDE urges Singapore's employment agencies to take greater responsibility in ensuring that their FDWs are equipped with basic English literacy skills.

To help bridge the language barrier, CDE is producing a Handy Guide series containing frequently used phrases in English, with translations in the vernacular, to aid communication between employers and FDWs during the initial employment period.

CDE also calls for the skills training provided at source countries to be of a certain standard to meet the expectations and needs of both the employers and FDWs.

CDE hopes that both the Cambodian and Singapore governments can consider co-creating training courses to equip Cambodian FDWs with the necessary and relevant skill sets.

CDE acknowledges that there have been cases of underage FDWs from various source countries who were lured to this trade. As it is illegal to bring in underage FDWs, we urge employment agencies to play a more proactive role in ensuring that their Cambodian counterparts are aware of the legal consequences of non-compliance.

CDE also hopes that both governments can work together to ensure that the recruitment of FDWs is done through legal means.

In line with CDE's proactive and upstream approach to tackling FDW employment-related matters, CDE is producing a pre-departure video that will educate FDWs about their rights in Singapore.

The video will be played in both the source country and in Singapore by local employment agencies.

It will highlight the contact details of the relevant support groups and provide them with information on various avenues of help.

Yeo Guat Kwang

Chairman

Centre for Domestic Employees

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2017, with the headline 'Tackling language, training issues of Cambodian maids'. Print Edition | Subscribe