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Employers go online to bully, mock helpers

15 April 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

Unknown to most foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, local employers have taken to using social media to come up with some sort of a blacklist for foreign domestic helpers.
An employers’ group whose name is in Chinese but is open to the public is replete with derisive, even abusive comments about helpers they perceive as underperforming or misbehaving. The posts, mostly in Chinese, sometimes even include defaced photographs of the targeted helpers.
On rare occasions, however, there were also positive comments, even praise for the helpers.
One of those who recently found herself the target of her employer’s cyber bullying was Filipina helper Dexter Vargas. She said she was shocked to learn that her former employer had posted nasty comments along with her photo in the Facebook group, because they had parted amicably.
“Maganda ang paalaman namin, magkaibigan pa kami pagbaba ko sa bahay nila. Nakiusap siya nang maayos dahil hindi na raw ako kayang bayaran. Sinabi ko namang naiintindihan ko ang sitwasyon nila, tapos siniraan pa niya ako,” Vargas told The SUN.
She learned about the post from her recruitment agency, who scolded her after reportedly getting a release letter from her employer, accusing her of “taking things” from their house.
The picture her former boss posted was of Vargas having fun with her friends on her day off, when just the day before, she had complained of being ill.
“Siyempre, araw ko iyon, kaya kailangang magsaya kahit may dinaramdam,” said Vargas.
The controversial picture which was lifted off a series of shots posted in Vargas’ personal account, did show her looking frail and unwell, though she was laughing and making faces at the camera.
For some unknown reason, however, the photo along with the derisive comments, were subsequently taken down by her employer.
Still, the group page remains full of maids’ photos, along with mocking and angry descriptions by disappointed and vindictive employers, and the equally biting remarks by their friends and equally “short-changed” bosses.
Many of those who posted were aggrieved by their maids allegedly having lied about their education, work experience, especially knowledge of child care and cooking. Others complained about warts and welts on their helpers’ skin.
Other posts include an Indonesian maid being taken away in a police van for allegedly stealing $900 from her ward. Several other photos show Filipinas leaving the house in their Sunday’s best, adorned with accessories.
“My 29-year-old maid who arrived in my house on Dec 10 to take care of two kids claimed she had two years of work experience and good English, but she is too shy to talk. I don’t understand all her basic communication,” one employer said.
The employer complained that the helper did not know how to work and had no cooking skills, so the employer ended up cooking dinner for her family and taking her two children to school.
On Dec 17, the maid reportedly told the employer she was taking her day off to meet a half-sister in Hong Kong Island, then “insisted on taking her holiday every Sunday for other reasons”. One day, the employer heard her calling the recruitment agency and asking to change employer. After a verbal clash with the maid, the employer fired her.
Another employer was complaining about her helper who reportedly said she had quit smoking during the job interview. But according to the employer she caught the maid smoking just before entering the lift one morning.
Domestic workers may not be aware, too, that employers are monitoring what they do when they take children out to the park or the clubhouse.
One helper had four defaced pictures showing her chatting with someone on her mobile phone while her ward was playing in a Tseung Kwan O estate.
“I hope the kids’ parents see and pay attention to the following (photos),” the group member who posted the photo commented.
Still, another employer apparently snooping on her helper’s text messages posted one such SMS in “tagalong” and translated it into Cantonese for the group members to see.
“Yesterday I saw a post but can’t find the successive messages. It’s about the Octopus running out,” the post read accordingly. The employer posted a shot of the text message written in a mix of Tagalog and Visayan which read:
“$200 ubos n daw? Negative n un bago nya nilagyan may receipt nmn. anhon q octopus card kitkiton? aq pa pagdudahan sa pera pinamimigay ko na nga lang pera q! ayan gusto mo basaha mmya pag-uwi mo. hindi aq bobo para manahimik nlng. Math q noon di bumababa sa 90!”
On the sunny side, at least two bosses posted comments during the mid-November 2015 to Jan 24 span heaping praises on their Filipino helpers for their excellent cooking, good behavior and good manners.
This positive post from one employer about her maid, however, has made the day for the group. On Christmas the maid left the house with a note as the employers slept.
“Good morning, Ma’am and Sir, Merry Christmas! I go down at 8:15 am. Thank you so much for giving me a holiday for this day even though im only 3 weeks. Im not really a perfect helper but I will do my very best to do my work well. Sorry if sometimes I made mistake. Thank you for treating me good. Mwahh.”
The letter was liked by 398 members and drew 25 comments of approval, such as “So sweet” and “Very good”.

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