Hot and cold

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 August, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 August, 1994, 12:00am

THE report of the successful appeal by a woman previously convicted of assaulting her Indonesian maid gives an unfortunate impression, as if it is acceptable behaviour on the part of an employer to burn a maid with a hot iron if the maid is considered to be incompetent.

The impression may come from the way the judicial decision was reported rather than the decision itself, but either way it is unfortunate.

Among incidental points we found striking was the woman's assertion that the maid was so incompetent that she was unable to tell the difference between the hot water and the cold water taps.

Most employers would not go on paying $3,200 a month, for nine months or longer, to retain someone representing a danger to herself and other members of the household because she could not distinguish between a hot and a cold water tap.

They would not hesitate to pay wages in lieu of notice to put an end to the employment contract, and the risks involved, without waiting so long.

Good employers would have no difficulty in filling the vacancy, as there are many willing workers looking for new employers who can tell the difference between hot and cold.

The case is also statistically unusual. Of Indonesian domestic helpers coming to us for help, 100 per cent have been underpaid.

This compares with about five per cent in the case of their Filipino counterparts, who tend to be better informed as to their rights.

JOVITA O. LEANO United Migrant Workers Interim Trust