The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Tue, 09/30/2008 10:18 AM City
A lamppost on a major Jakarta street displays an advertisement which reads: "For temporary nannies and helpers, contact 566xxxx."
Such advertisements appear annually ahead of Idul Fitri celebrations, when most nannies and helpers working in Jakarta return to their hometowns to spend the holiday with their families.
"The demand this year is almost double last year's. So far we have over 100 customers wanting nannies and helpers, but we can only help around 60," Sugiarto, one of such advertisers, told The Jakarta Post. He said all the employees for the temporary assignments had working experience and came to Jakarta specifically for this period. The company had sent their recruiting officers to villages in Lampung and Java.
"But lately it is not easy to find temporary help. It may be because of the increasing number of agencies. Our field workers had to work hard to attract personnel, usually by enticing the potential ones with loans," he said.
A similar trend has been experienced by another worker agency.
"Last year we supplied more than 50 nannies. So far this year we have had an increase in demand of 50 percent and we expect to supply more than 100 nannies before Lebaran," Martin Peranginangin of Tiara Kasih Bunda agency told the Post.
"Maybe as Idul Fitri draws nearer, we will be undersupplied."
He tried to minimize the shortage by carefully selecting his customers, rejecting about 20 percent of the requests.
"We try to gauge the customers who come to us. We refuse the fuzzy ones to minimize post-deal problems," he said. Indonesia has a long tradition of hiring live-in nannies and helpers, practiced by a majority of financially sound families. Working mothers also rely heavily on nannies as day care services are not yet widely available. As such, the absence of help during Lebaran has caused major disturbances in the daily activities of many families. However, Martin admitted the huge demand did not guarantee good business. Agencies, above all, must gain the trust of the parents.
"Not all agencies are performing well. Parents usually come to an agency based on word-of-mouth referrals. We gain people's trust because we supply workers all year, not only for this period. And we try to keep our customers satisfied so they will refer us to others," he said.
A working mother of a ten-month-old baby, Linda Susanto, agrees.
"My sitter is going back to her hometown so I need a replacement. But I cannot trust just any baby-sitter. I asked everyone I know if any of their previous employees were available," she said. As the big day is drawing near, she can only hope for the best. Either that, or she will have to stay home until the sitter returns. But some other parents choose to care for the children themselves during the holiday for financial reasons.
"It is too expensive to hire temporary nannies. I would rather do it myself," said Melvin, a mother of two under three boys. Holiday nannies cost much more than permanent ones. Their salaries range from Rp 60,000 (US$6.25) to Rp 100,000 per day. The agencies usually charge a one-time administration fee of Rp 200,000 to Rp 600,000 and the employees must be hired for at least a week. A permanent nanny's salary ranges from Rp 400,000 to Rp 1 million a month. (mri)