Singapore moms riled by maid rights video
A Singaporean social media campaign to secure days off for maids has instead ended up irritating the mothers who employ them. Some find it needlessly negative.
That is because the video, “Mums & Maids,” seems to signal that maids know their employers’ children better than the employers themselves. It then asks if parents should be spending more time with their children and ends by telling them to give their maids a day off.
The video, developed by marketing communications firm Ogilvy & Mather ( O&M) and supported by workers’ rights group Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), asks maids and mothers a series of questions about the child of the house.
It shows the maid getting the correct answer about the child, rather than the mother. It adds that 74 percent of the maids gave more correct answers compared to the mothers.
O&M did not reply when asked if the interviews were staged and how many people participated in the interviews.
The YouTube video has been viewed around 89,000 times and some have disagreed with its central idea that giving maids time off work allows employers to bond with their children.
Siti Zubeidah Kadir, 31, who has a three-year-old daughter, said the video misses the point that maids deserve time off work like other workers.
“Instead, the video villianizes mothers. We already feel guilty for not being able to spend enough time with our children and this video makes us feel worse,” said the real estate agent.
O&M said that the film is part of a campaign to draw attention to the fact that many maids in Singapore do not have days off.
Since January 2013, bosses are required to give maids a weekly day off or payment in lieu.
A Ministry of Manpower survey of 2,000 maids who had come to Singapore to work for the first time in 2013, showed that only 37 percent were receiving a weekly day off.
Eugene Cheong, chief creative officer of O&M Asia-Pacific, said the film was “deliberately confronting.”
“It must actually change behavior. So we focused on the creative strategy of tapping into modern parents’ fear of missing out.”
Yesterday, TWC2’ s President Noorashikin Abdul Rahman said her organization was not involved in developing the video but was approached to support it. However, TWC2 executive members viewed the film about a week ago and told O&M that it might receive some negative feedback.
“TWC2 hopes the film will contribute to a constructive re-examination of employers’ relationship with domestic workers,” said Dr. Noorashikin.
But Kate McFarlane, editor of parenting website Sassy Mama Singapore, disagreed.
“I don’t see how that negativity will encourage someone to want to give their helper a day off,” said McFarlane, 33, who has a 10-month-old daughter.
However, other parents, such as bank executive Tricia Lim, said the video sends an important message that parents need to take an active role in raising their children. “It is true that some parents do not spend enough time with their kids. The video is a good reminder,” said Lim, 29, who has an 11-month-old daughter.