Bad Moods

SINGAPORE, October 12, 2008 (AFP) – As the global financial storm blows fear through Asia’s stock markets, Filipino maid Christy Arciaga is jittery — even though she does not own any shares. Her businessman employer has lately become more irritable as he has watched his investments being swallowed in a sea of red ink, and the 46-year-old domestic helper is often on the receiving end of his bad moods.

“My employer would turn on the television every morning to check the latest stock market report even before breakfast. He is often angry and tells me he might send me home even before my contract ends,” Arciaga said.

“The thought of going back has caused me sleepless nights. What about my family? Two of my children are still in college.”

Thousands of migrant workers, among them maids, restaurant staff and labourers working in wealthy Asian cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong, are worried that an economic slowdown and retrenchments resulting from the crisis could hit their employers’ pockets, and leave them without jobs.

This would mean that the flow of remittances they send home to their poor families will dry up — and with it money for food, clothing and school fees