Employment agency that ‘sold’ foreign domestic workers on Carousell pleads guilty

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The employment agency which faced criticism for advertising that maids and domestic helpers were commodities in an online retail marketplace has pleaded guilty to 45 counts under employment agency license terms, including “posting insensitive advertisements”. 99 additional counts will be considered at the hearing.

The offensive advertisements were posted on the online retail platform Carousell from September 1 to 17, 2018. The advertisements showed the photos and names of alleged foreign domestic workers (FWD) from Indonesia. The platform also offers the ability to select prices from lowest to highest and mark those that have already been “sold”.

Read: Indonesian workers put up for sale on Carousell; mom investigates

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has since suspended SRC Recruitment’s license in October 2018. Erleena Mohd Ali (41), the employee who originally posted the advertisements, was fined 20 000 Singapore dollars in November 2018. According to the statement, Ali had requested permission from SRC Recruitment to post online advertisements under the FWD username “@maid.recruitment” using Carousell. She said her employer gave her permission to do so.

Read: Forced labor of foreign domestics is rampant in Singapore, NGO says

MOM said the advertisements included “details that would portray foreign domestic workers in a manner similar to a commodity that can be bought and sold.”

Additionally, advertisements on Carousell did not include the full name and license number of SRC Recruitment, which is against labor regulations intended to protect against illegal and unlicensed employment agencies.

Carousell has since removed all offensive advertisements.

Netizens were quick to point out that the ads are comparable to modern day slave auctions. Others noted that the employee who posted the ads was just doing her job and the agency should bear the brunt of the punishment.

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