The Singaporean Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said a Filipino diplomat in Singapore cast doubt on an online news report that Filipina household workers were being displayed for sale at some of the city-state’s malls.
In a statement, MOM responded “to recent Filipino media reports, based on an online Al Jazeera story, about the treatment of Filipino foreign domestic workers (FDWs) while they are placed with employment agencies (EAs) in Singapore.”
The statement said “we note that when contacted by The Straits Times, the Filipino labor attaché in Singapore, Mr. Vicente Cabe, was quoted as saying that based on his observations, the online article ‘doesn’t seem to have basis’ and that while he saw some FDWs sitting on one side of a room at some agencies, waiting to be interviewed by clients, “ . . . it seems a bit exaggerated to say that there is anything wrong with that.”
The MOM said it visited the EAs in the two shopping centers concerned and did not find any inappropriate “displays of FDWs.”
Its statement added that “the Al Jazeera story also mentioned that some FDWs could be seen demonstrating household or care giving chores within the premises of EAs. As some EAs have training facilities in the same premises as their front offices, it is not unreasonable for FWDs to be performing such chores at the EA’s premises.”
Furthermore, “the same story also suggested that some FDWs were not treated well while in their EA’s care. MOM’s rules are clear that EAs have to ensure the well-being of FDWs in their case.”
The ministry said “inappropriate display of FDWs” at EAs’ premises or advertising them as being “available for hire at cheap or discounted prices” are unacceptable practices. MOM requires EAs to be responsible and accord basic respect in their practices to both their clients—the employer and the FDW—and expects them to exercise sensitivity when marketing their fees or services.”
It said it “proactively audits Singapore EAs and those found to have acted in a manner detrimental to the interest of the FDWs, will be dealt with in accordance to the Employment Agencies Act. EAs are also informed, at the point of licence approval and during audits, that they are not allowed to restrict the FDWs’ movements or make them remain outside the EA’s premises against their will. MOM will send an advisory to all EAs on this matter.”