22 May 2013

Training an experienced domestic maid (FDW)

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My 4th filipino FDW (JA)
Who earns lesser than FDWs?

22 May - A very easy task yet JA cannot do well. She kept giving my girl a huge spoonful of food and expected her to swallow fast. Reminded her many times (JA either tells me she knows or simply looked at the floor), showed her the correct portion yet she refused to do accordingly. My girl rarely chews her food, she swallows most of her food, tell me how to get your toddler (told JA to treat my girl like a big baby) swallow this?
JA has also been reminded when giving dry food such as fried mee or rice, she should give my girl water or soup in between feeds but as usual, she turned a deaf ear.

It is something so simple yet she refused to cooperative and make my life less miserable. Just because FDW wants to do things she fancies, has freedom to exercise her rights as human, I get to be treated this way? Who says maids are not capable of bullying employers?

It is not that JA doesn't know the meaning of a small scoop, I feel she just can't stand to see me happy … or trying to show her discontentment, indirectly make me agree to her advance home leave, after working for less than 3 months with me? This is what happens when your FDW goes for regular off days. Don't you agree nowadays, FDWs take off days to learn how to manage their employers and give them hell ... show who has the last laugh or holding real power? JA vented her frustrations and her friends will teach her ways to get back at me.... make me be extremely unhappy? 

Knew I don't like her ways, knew I dislike reminding her or do spot checks yet purposely provoke me and testing my tolerance. 
Also she 'forgets' to lock the child gate leading to the kitchen.  If there's fire on the stove or hot water, what's going to happen to my girl?  Last week, JA shared this info in a happy tone.  She said she forgot to lock the gate and discovered my girl drinking a cup of water that she placed on the table.   By the way, my girl doesn't know how to drink from a normal cup so she was all wet!  Another proof that JA is not giving my girl enough water.  How would you handle such maid? Give her more chances?  Close your eyes totally till something happens? Buy her a one way ticket and kick her out? 

Yesterday, JA mopped part of the floor that was wetted by my girl's urine.  After changing her, she let her walk away unaccompanied and my girl slipped on the wet floor, knees down, lucky didn't bang her head.  JA didn't look remorseful, no 'sorry' from her so should I assume she did it on purpose, didn't hold my girl's hand and ensure she is lead to the sofa to sit while she make the floor drier?  Or she felt kid falling is no big deal?

I am not trying to 鸡蛋挑骨头 be so demanding and unreasonable, it is all about safety!  If my girl gets choked, will JA be delighted?  Can she handle such emergency?  If my girl falls again due to wet floor or gets hurt when she 'forgets' to lock the child gate, who is going to bear the consequences?  Does JA deserve many more chances ... endless?  Employers suppose to wait for tragedies to happen or a life lost instead of prevention? 

What sort of FDWs have our MOM allowed to remain in Spore?  Simple tasks, cannot do well, refused to cooperate or do what she has been trained (the way I wanted), need employer to drill her again and again... so frustrating.  Did FDWs bring their brain to work?  I believe they did, otherwise, how did they learn to be so scheming, hard to please and demanding?  Did they fly in solely to victimise or give employers mental stress and financial losses?  Is this the kind of working mentality you welcome your employee to have?  Who has a big heart to accommodate employee with poor working attitude?  Don't want to follow your company's policies but you gladly tweak yours to please them? 

7 May - JA is not a good worker, very demanding (lots of requests, from tiny to big) when compared to my previous Filipino maids. I tried to make myself feel better by comparing JA with lousy M, my ex-Indonesian maid.  I didn't post anything regularly on this page doesn't mean I've finally got a good helper.

Told myself don’t be angry, pretend didn’t see, it will ruin my health. Cool down.

I heard 'clark clark' sound, was shocked to see JA using my girl's feeding spoon to sweep the rice on the floor.  Had to tell JA that was really unhygienic and she should know what tools to use. 

Pretend I’m not mad that she didn’t let my girl wear long sleeves when the train or therapy room is cold ... after reminders.  She made my girl fell sick twice in 2 consecutive weeks. My girl was crying with discomfort (she was unable to express), cranky in class, teacher couldn't understand nor handle her.  School kicked my girl home when my girl fell sick the second time. She was discharging greenish mucus, an infection according to the polyclinic doctor.  JA was having flu and cough before my girl, reminded her to cover mouth and wash her hands but she was unwilling.  I said I don't want her to pass virus to my girl.  After repeated reminders, she said school teacher passed the virus to her.  I said I cannot control what a teacher does but as my helper, I prefer she exercises good hygiene, protect and show more concern to my girl.  I recalled I was in class and saw one of the teachers who covered her mouth but didn't wash her hands and continued to touch the special needs students with low resistance.  Up till today, JA would sneeze or cough openly, don't even bother to cover her mouth.  She tend to get unwell but claimed she's a strong person.  When I interviewed her, she was having sore throat and bad flu that made her voice hoarse.  Told me she rarely get sick!  Can see that JA doesn't care my girl will catch the virus from her again!!  She's the cause of my girl's repeated illness!

Pretend I'm not bothered that JA has spreaded her 'territory'.  Gave her a PVC 5-tier big drawers, one extra drawer and enough space to hang her clothes as well as wet laundry.  She simply took my adhesive hooks without permission and sticked on MY wall, just to hang her hair band and necklace.  Said her necklace too long, will get entangled if placed in the given drawers.  Once adhesive hooks sticked, it is so hard to remove.  I thought I own the house, not her?  Is this her way of showing she has treated my house as hers, a sense of belonging?  Should I be happy that she likes my house .... the place of her 2-year employment?

Pretend I'm not frustrated that she ironed my working clothes with visible wrinkles. Pointed out the wrinkles and asked JA to re-do.  JA said she tried but hard to make it smooth.  Had to demonstrate how to iron .... sigh, JA is an experience FDW, worked few years in Spore.  What was JA doing when she was with other employers?

Pretend I'm not a clean-freak and be particular that JA didn’t scrub my pots clean and left visible stain/burnt food. It accumulated and became harder to remove after repeated cooking. Unhygienic and lazy?  Can you stand such a pot that is being used again and again?  This wasn't part of my training. 

Pretend I spoke too fast so end up nowadays, I had to repeat what I’ve said to JA. She is absent-minded or trying to ignore my existence?

Pretend I’m not annoyed that JA chose to cut a greenish unripe pumpkin instead of an orangy ripe pumpkin.  Not observant or absent-minded?  Thought she prepared pumpkin porridge at her 7th employer's house?

Pretend I can tolerate JA sometimes add too much salt into my food (very extreme saltiness), sometimes too bland. Just add water if too salty, add my own seasoning if too bland... otherwise, don't eat too much, let JA eat most of the food... tell her it is her chance to put on weight.  JA is just not keen to use my standard measurement. All my training on her seemed like not saved into her CPU.

Pretend it is alright that she doesn't do proper accounting on how she spent my food allowance, what kind of lunch she bought for my girl and how much she spent on her food (with my money).  Reminded JA her food budget.  Yes, there were a few times she told me didn't know the food she chose was expensive.  I have reminded her to look at the price or open her mouth to ask.  The next time if she wants to buy expensive food, ie cost more then my girl, she has to pay the difference.  I haven't asked her to pay, thus, she felt I'm just a paper tiger.

Pretend I didn't see the ants visiting my dining table and crawling on part of my living room/sofa.

I pretended every night she was busy holding on to her mobile to text her family.  JA claimed her family sleeps around 7pm (she said this is common) so wanted her mobile to be with her the whole day or before 5pm (I'm still in office), for easier communication and Emergency.  Every night has chance to use mobile, what kind of emergency could there be?  Ever told JA don't assume I'm stupid.  She had admitted she was browsing Facebook most of the nights.  I am not a FB fan so I don't know how to get into her account and browse her contacts/postings without her knowledge. 

Continue pretend I can buy her snacks to munch, please her by letting her put on weight (JA said she wanted to gain a few more kgs), on top of her 3 main meals. I wish I could have her figure. No tummy, slim (M size) and tall …. the perfect figure that I wanted. JA said she likes to eat in between work.  Looks like a big cc person, eat a lot but doesn't put on weight. 

Deceiving myself that I am not very annoyed to hear JA telling me (this evening) she wants to take advance home leave this Jun, after working for only 1.5 months with me. Claimed her 2 teenagers (15 and 17 years old) and hubby missed her.  Told JA if she insist on going back, she has to pay me what she owe + interest.  Don't take advantage of me.  Told her I've decided not to let her take advance home leave this Dec.  She kept breaking her promises, I'm also doing the same.  Asked JA, how do you feel, happy?  Disappointed about my decision to be too nice?  Told JA, next time want to request anything, please (I used 'please' twice) pretend she is the employer, think of how you would feel.  Think of my money flying away, the inconvenience resulted if you decide not to come back to Spore.   Spoke to my colleagues about cancelling JA's Dec advance home leave, they said I should hold those words till end of the year and not agitate JA, put my girl at risks .... sigh.  See what I mean to be managed by FDW and worry what she'll do to my girl?

22 Apr - When your maid wants to remain stubborn and play forgetful games, what can you do?  Hit your own chest!

Reminded JA many times to remember my training and house rules, told her to read the printed instructions but she claimed 'read' and deliver something different.  Felt angry but can I shout at her and put my girl at risk?  JA has off days to do whatever personal things she need.  I said she has to plan when she wants to remit her money home and buy whatever she need during her off day, don't give excuse like 'urgent'.  This afternoon, she went Western Union to send money with my girl and said on the way, she bought her sanitary pads.  All these can be done on her off days, am I wrong to insist she runs her errands on off days??  Maids are really taking advantage of employers but self righteous people felt it is alright to eat snake, am I right?  Given off days yet still want to get time-off .... really don't understand why MOM allows such maids to do things to irritate us. 

17 Apr - I saw something interesting and decided to amend and put in my blog.  These should be avoided if you want to be a good employee in a company or a good maid in Spore!

1.      Refuse to learn any new skills.  Boss (FDW's Employer/Company) provided free training yet you grumbled or act stubborn, refused to cooperate and pick up new skills to deliver a better job.

2.      Complain about anything and everything.  Boss treated you fairly according to Spore law but you wanted more, thought you deserved something much much better.

3.      Behave as if your boss owes you a living.  You didn’t reflect on how much you have contributed or willing to take that extra mile.

4.      Continually ask yourself “What can I get?”  “How to pester for more benefits and pay” instead of “What can I give?”

5.      Spend most of your time at work on Facebook, personal calls, etc.  More keen to socialize when you should be doing work during working hours.

6.      Try to change the culture at work without first understanding the culture deeply.  Thought you are a human so you want to claim your rights.  You didn’t respect the person who owns the company/house and a boss who employed you. 

7.      Don’t give your boss regular updates.  Behave like you are not answerable to your boss.  Don’t periodically reflect on how you can do things better.  Finding chances to slack.

8.      Late.  No boss likes to wait for their subordinates/workers.

9.      Don’t reply to boss’ sms in a timely manner. 

10. Gossip about your boss, especially private life.  Criticize or talk bad about your boss in public, over exaggerated. 

11.  Don’t show basic courtesy to your boss.  Talk or behave as if you know it all or you are more experience than your boss.  Try to use power that you don’t have and will not be given.

12.  Never say “thank you” or apologize sincerely to your boss when you’re in the wrong

13.  ‘Delegate’ tasks to your boss on your rest days.

5 Apr - JA is an experienced maid, not fresh maid so she knows how to compare and bargain.   I'm her 8th employer!  JA's only problem is trying too hard to bargain and compare, said 'ok' but after employment she tried to push her luck for something that failed to get me to agree before employment. 

Wanted JA to remember how I have trained her, deliver her duties and don't try other methods which required me to check on her or creating inconvenience to us.  To me, she is taking advantage of me, not a honest person and testing my limits.  Whatever JA agreed, as an adult, do it!  You want people to respect and treat you well, do the same to others, it should be a two way traffic. 

I have clearly outlined my FDW's requirements but some people asked "Does the FDW has bargaining power? "Was she free to accept and negotiate the terms?”. 
My answer to both questions are 'Yes'.  Nobody can force FDWs to work if they are really not interested.   They are not slaves who are being sold to the employers.  Agent may try to persuade and push you (FDW) out for transfer but it is still FDW's decision because you are paying your agency 1 to 2 months salary, surely you have the rights to say NO!  You and the employer are putting money in the agency's pocket, why can't you be frank to the prospective employer?   I prefer a transparent relationship.  
Did a spreadsheet to show JA how much money she has offered to her agencies.  If the previous seven employers, she was charge one month as transfer fee, that means 7 months salary gone.  If add in her 7 months maid loan, she kissed good bye to 14 months salary.  By agreeing to work for me, she parted with 16 months salary!!  Not a lot? 

I mentioned to JA that she could have done something repeatedly to irritate her previous employers, something she felt she did nothing wrong but a sore in her previous employers' eyes. .. quoted her a few examples of what she did in my house that may had lead to her termination.  One of her employers, a filipino family knew she wanted to continue to work for them and her long waited desire to take home leave but her services was terminated just before hitting two years.  I certainly hope JA will reflect on her past actions as well as behaviour and do some 'good transformation' ... be my good helper. 

If you, FDW doesn't want to go thru an agency, hope to save on transfer fee, find your own employer from the Net when you are about to finish your contract.  Modern FDWs are so Net savvy, most have Facebook account ... you have ways to find your desired employment if you had tried hard enough.  Who says FDWs are slaves, lost their human rights and freedom? You can do an ad, pick and choose your employer in Spore.  Who dare to restrict your freedom and don't treat you nicely?

If you can find your own employer, you save S$1000 to $1300 .... provided you have good employment history, an employer's reference and of course, a signed transfer form.  You enjoy returning to your agency, offer them more money and get another transfer?  Is it so hard to be a down-to-earth person, not too playful, be responsible and complete a 2-year contract?  Sometimes, paying your own air ticket to go home is better than letting agency earn from you.  Example, 2 months salary as transfer fee: $1000 is about 33216 peso or Rp7862358, can you keep feeding your agency?  If you are so rich, don't need an income, why come to Spore?  Main purpose is to play?  Sightseeing?  Find boyfriends?  Don't you feel paying 8 months loan to your agencies, is a lot of money?  I could feel the pinch, don't you?

I have contacted some DIY FDWs.  Some of them claimed their contract expiring, a few said their expat employers are flying back for good.  One of them whom I have sms, placed an ad and then the next day, suddenly was in the agency, asked me to hire her thru her agency.  Not sure why she was suddenly kicked out of the house but certainly not worth the time to meet her.  There are a few FDW websites that help FDW find employers, vice versa.  One of it looks ok.  I will not be posting the website names here because I don't want to be a referer.  FDWs have weekly off days to browse the Net.  As for DIY employers ... happy web surfing!

JA and all my other FDWs read my requirements.  I have seen their expectations stated on their bio datas, this was our first round of interaction.  Those FDWs looking for expat houses, must have 24/7 cell phone ownership, cannot share a room, asking too high salary and no childcare experiene, were all discarded. 

JA knew my terms so tried to negotiate and I gave in to her request (after consideration and taking advice from a friend), ie to use mobile phone in the evenings and weekly off days.... just to show there's room for negotiation and trying to be accommodating, not too strict.  Terms were discussed before employment so who says FDWs have no bargaining power?  My only mistake was to trust JA's or M's verbal agreement, I should get them to write in the presence of their agents.  Shouldn't give them chance to claim don't know what's going on, what 'harsh' terms were agreed.  

The whole hiring process wasn't a 30 mins event, I met JA twice for interviews and sms her a few times to reconfirm what we have discussed ... stressed that she must think carefully, my house is not a playground.  I hesitated getting experience maids because it is hard to train them but looking at the fresh maids, they are on par.
Will FDW be afraid of not getting a job if she laid down her terms too clearly?" 
My answer, what's there to be afraid if Time is on your side and the FDW demand in Spore remains high.  As long as MOM continues to protect you, standing on your side, no matter how bad is your work performance or character, you'll eventually find an employer who is willing to give you a chance ... or a household that has similiar 磁场won't 相冲.  Timing is important when getting transfer.

2 Apr - JA my current FDW doesn't have the habit of switching off power supply nor off the light that she no longer need.  I have reminded her frequently that she has left the toilet light switched on.  JA also has a bad habit of pulling out the applicances or her mobile charger, leaving the main power switched On. 

Her looks quite new mobile is having some problem, could be due to over use or has dropped a few times.  Every night I see her tapping her battery.  If JA thought I would offer her a free mobile, then she is wrong, I don't intend to encourage her to use a mobile.  Day 1, she did ask me for a mobile that has dual SIM card to slot hers and mine.  I did a cheap sales of my 2 month old Nokia X3 phone to my previous filipino maid, J as a form of reward, after she completed one year with me.  She gave it to her son who was delighted to have such a good phone when she took advanced home leave.  J came back with no mobile and relied on neighbours to pass her messages from home, friends and employment agency!  She was a real worker, can work without a mobile phone, a mother with intention to earn more money, thus for her new employer, she requested only one off day each month.  Highlighted to JA that if she wants to get higher salary eg S$600, she must complete a 2-year contract to prove to future employer that she has changed, well trained, accommodating and is suitable to be employed by any household.

In order to get out of my house, my 3rd FDW, J used me and then made false accusations of me (click).  When I had bad times with M, I really felt lousy and wished my bad luck/frustrations would all be passed to J, let her feel some regrets and have a lousy employer.  Still can't get over the fact that she used me in order to hop to greener pasture!  为什么不能好聚好散不要出阴招?

Took one week annual leave to train JA.  For M's case, I took more than one week, burnt all by annual leave, so wasted!  Showed JA how to get to special school, where to buy lunch, what kind of simple food to cook for my family, where's the market and which stalls I frequent.  Also, showed JA how to do simple accounting so that I know where she spent the money I gave her to buy lunch for herself and my girl. 

In terms of productivity, JA at the moment is better than M or J.  Her cleanliness still needs reminders.   M is a super slow person.  A normal person, be it me or my current FDW, we used about 10 to 15mins to hang the wet laundry from the washing machine onto the bamboos to dry.  M took more than half hour.

A normal person need about 45mins to mop my floors but M took almost 2 hours.  M can do housework at a super slow pace, definitely can't handle children, multi-task, doubt her agency at Katong Shopping Centre would be so honest to warn her new employer.

To change clothes, M took about 10mins while we, normal person only need less than 5 mins.... this is the difference between a fast person and a person programmed to be slow (cannot change the settings).  Many people told me Indonesians do things very slowly, ya, I had a taste of it.  From M's employment, I realised being able to communicate in English is important, Indonesians and Myanmars are pte limited so I have to drop down to baby language or sign language which means I can't sms any instructions nor call to talk over the phone.... they can't catch or understand what I want.  The way you explain to M need lots of patience and talents (how to mince your words).  When you raise your voice to explain to such FDW, people around you may find you irritating or label you as a bad boss.

Told M to kill the cockroaches before they run away so that they won't continue breed in my house, ended up she ran faster than the cockroaches (regardless big or baby roaches).  With JA, at least she didn't find a place to run, told me yesterday she killed 3 cockroaches, which was something delighting to hear.  Sorry, I made her be a killer but no choice, I don't want to be pet owner of cockroaches, ants and centipedes.  Asked JA is she afraid of centipedes, she said no, made me feel good, at last I don't get a princess FDW like M who appeared more terrified than me after seeing centipede or cockroaches.  I hope JA knows what is a centipede, her 'ok' doesn't mean she is really ok. 

Spoke to some concerned colleagues, they felt I am taking a big gamble.  I thought so too.  Every time I hire a FDW, I am gambling.  I don't have good luck, can only envy neighbours who get good helpers, worked with them for almost 10 years.   If I really want to rate in terms of work and letting me work with peace, my 3rd FDW can perform quite well.  I hope JA will straighten out her not too sensible thinking, deliver her promises, blend in well and be committed to help me for at least 2 years.  If she could hold back her home visit, it would be better so that I need not apply unpaid leave and cause my company to be unhappy with my frequent disappearance.  Since I've agreed, I don't want to disappoint her.... I'm not a person who gives empty promises, too honest, doesn't 拐弯抹角.... not something good because it makes me hard to survive in a cruel environment.

I think in Spore, out of 30 FDWs, only one is ok and will put her heart to work well instead of play hard.  This means the other 29 employers are having bad times, tolerating their FDWs.  This is not a good sign but MOM doesn't care, what can we do?  Once you've signed the agency papers, MOM assumed you have willingly agreed to be their ATM machine cum FDWs' guardian.  MOM and our PAP felt most employers have been given better options, such as childcare centres, babysitters, thus, employing FDW is certainly not a bad or no choice option.   

1 comment:

  1. All these problem are the result of technology and NGOs. They misused info such as human rights.
    When we were mountain tortoises, info are not circulated so easily, we get to live in a simple world, little interaction with outside world, dont get bad influence and knowledge.
    That kind of kampong life is great but a developed country like Spore is unable to give us what we had decades ago.


This blog is not meant for screw-lose activists or loans. My blog aims to gather all FDWs' news scattered everywhere, become a one-stop site for mentally & financially bullied FDWs' employer to beware and learn. Don't pollute this blog with your pro-maid, insensible and selfish comments! Activists posting here are BLIND IDIOTS, IRRITATING freaks and deliberately showing no RESPECT for others... robbing our only breathing space.