HUNDREDS of Filipino maids have found themselves thrown out of work during the festive season, as employers tightened their belts and swept out all 'things they don't like' before the Lunar New Year. Mission for Filipina Migrant Workers spokesman Cynthia Tellez said many employers had sacked their maids to save money. 'At this time of year, we have a larger number of terminated cases; many lose their jobs because their employers are taking a long vacation,' she said. 'There is also a superstitious belief that you should get rid of things you don't like before the New Year.' Employers - like Hong Kong shoppers - had less money to spend this year and many could ill afford to keep on their maids, Ms Tellez said. 'We believe it is because employers don't have as much money to spend on hiring maids. But the problem is that they don't want their helpers to know this is the reason they are being terminated, because in another five or six months they will just hire another helper,' she said. The mission dealt with 221 sacked amahs last month - the highest number in more than a year. It handled 182 cases in December and 163 in October. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Centre's acting welfare officer, Philippine consular representative Yolanda Uy-Penaranda, said employers' financial problems added to other factors which were putting maids out of work. Reasons included faulty communication and alleged maltreatment of maids. 'We have about 52 maids at the [emergency accommodation] centre, which is more than usual. The average number we have is only 30 to 40,' she said. Centre co-ordinator Esperanza Borlongan said many maids claimed they had not been paid properly and had lost their jobs for financial reasons. 'We have cases where many of the employers didn't want their services anymore because they already had two domestic maids and couldn't afford to keep both on,' Ms Borlongan said. Hong Kong Domestic Helpers Employers Association spokesman Joseph Law was sceptical about the effect of economic circumstances on employers' ability to hire maids. 'It could be because of the interest rate rise and people having to pay high mortgages. However, I feel that for all those who can afford to hire maids, this shouldn't make a difference to them,' he said. 'I haven't heard of more maids losing jobs because of the Chinese New Year, but I think it would be the opposite - that there would need to be a lot more housework to be done because of the Chinese New Year,' Mr Law said. At the centre, the plight of Angelito Bautista, 40, is sadly typical: she was dismissed in late November when her employer said she was suffering financial difficulties.