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Singapore agencies warned vs. advertising domestic workers as commodities

Singapore agencies warned vs. advertising domestic workers as commodities

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by IDWFED published Jul 16, 2014 12:00 AM
Employment agencies (EA) in Singapore were reminded by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to refrain from commodifying domestic workers in their marketing strategies. According to a report in The Straits Times, MOM's advisory, released Wednesday, told EAs not to include words such as "cheap fees" or "promotional rates" in their campaigns. It also instructed agencies to refrain from "displaying" foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in an "undignified" light, including having them sit outside agency premises.

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SINGAPORE -

Excerpt:

Employment agencies (EA) in Singapore were reminded by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to refrain from commodifying domestic workers in their marketing strategies.

According to a report in The Straits Times, MOM's advisory, released Wednesday, told EAs not to include words such as "cheap fees" or "promotional rates" in their campaigns.

It also instructed agencies to refrain from "displaying" foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in an "undignified" light, including having them sit outside agency premises.

"While we understand that the presence of FDWs at EAs’ premises is aimed at facilitating job matching between the FDWs and prospective employers, displaying FDWs in an undesirable manner reinforces the impression that FDWs are commodities to be 'tested' or traded is unacceptable to the Ministry," read the advisory, reproduced in full by Today, a Singaporean news site.


Photo: Joost Rooijmans/Flickr

Disciplinary actions will be imposed by the Commissioner of Employment Agencies against EAs found with these practices.

MOM's advisory came weeks after it denied an Al Jazeera report that foreign domestic workers were being peddled in Singaporean malls.

MOM had noted that when contacted by Singapore's The Straits Times, Philippine Labor Attaché Vicente Cabe allegedly said that the Al Jazeera article “doesn't seem to have basis.”

“MOM proactively audits Singapore's EAs [employment agencies] and those found to have acted in a manner detrimental to the interest of FDWs will be dealt with in accordance to the Employment Agencies Act,” it said in a statement last July 4.

The advisory is reproduced in full below:

“Dear Key Appointment Holders and EA Personnel,

We are concerned by incidences of insensitive advertising and inappropriate display of FDWs by EAs.

INSENSITIVE ADVERTISING BY EAS

We understand that advertisements indicating very low agency fees are sometimes used among FDW-placing EAs to attract prospective employers. However, these advertisements which emphasise cheap fees, promotional rates, and/or discounts inadvertently give the impression that the FDWs are being marketed as merchandise. EAs should ensure that all advertising collaterals accord FDWs basic respect and human dignity.

EAs should therefore refrain from all forms of public advertising (eg on shop fronts and websites) that casts FDWs in an undignified light. EAs’ advertisements should not make any mention of fees or liken FDWs to merchandise that can be purchased and replaced when found unsatisfactory. The Ministry considers such practices unacceptable. EAs can however continue to communicate the full schedule of their fees and policies to prospective clients upon their request.

INAPPROPRIATE DISPLAY OF FDWS

While we understand that the presence of FDWs at EAs’ premises is aimed at facilitating job matching between the FDWs and prospective employers, displaying FDWs in an undesirable manner (including having them sit outside EA premises) reinforces the impression that FDWs are commodities to be “tested” or traded is unacceptable to the Ministry.

The Ministry considers the practices listed above as potentially detrimental to FDWs, who are ultimately EAs’ clients. The Commissioner of Employment Agencies has grounds to take action against EAs with such practices under Section 11(1)(c) of the Employment Agencies Act which states that an EA should not act in a manner likely to be detrimental to the interests of its clients.

EAs should therefore cease the above unacceptable practices with immediate effect. The Ministry will take action against EAs which persist in such undesirable practices.

Please contact us at Tel: 6438 5122 or email: mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg if you require any clarification.”

More information:

 

Source: Rie Takumi/BM/GMA News

Story Type: News

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