Tesco criticised for 'disgraceful' advert showing domestic worker being slapped

Labour conditions are a significant problem for domestic workers in Thailand

Will Worley
Tuesday 29 March 2016 17:38 BST

An advert for supermarket giant Tesco's Thai subsidiary depicting a domestic worker being slapped has been criticised.

The commercial shows a maid spilling a plate of crisps over a seated woman, who stands up, screaming, and hits the worker in the face.

Thailand has deep-seated issues with the labour rights of domestic workers, advocacy groups have claimed.

Viewer Rob van Gelder said the advert, produced by Tesco Lotus, was “a disgrace".

"What is even worse is that they make the final statement with exactly this scene," he wrote on Twitter.

Another user on Twitter said the video “needs to be taken down.”

The advert has now been removed from social media
The advert has now been removed from social media (Tesco Lotus/Facebook)

Labour rights group Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising (WIEGO) condemned the advert:

“WIEGO was at the forefront on campaigning for a convention on domestic work which was achieved in 2011 in extending labour rights to domestic workers," Mike Bird, Operations Director at WIEGO, told The Independent.

“Part of people’s labour rights is that they are not physically abused by their employers. Any suggestion that that is OK, we’d certainly take issue with.”

The commercial was spotted by Bangkok-based journalist Jerome Taylor.

It is not the first time the issue of domestic workers being abused has surfaced in Thailand.

Cases of involving enslavement and physical violence are not uncommon in South East Asia.

In a survey cited in a 2010 International Labour Organisation report, almost all domestic workers questioned were subject to “some forms of violence or abuse by their employers”.

Even in households where this does not apply, many maids still work long hours with little time off.

According to the MAP Foundation, which campaigns for the rights of domestic workers in Thailand, most work up to 14 hours a day and are paid 4,300 baht and 5,000 baht (£84-£98) a month.

Under Thai law, workers are entitled to an eight-hour working day and a minimum wage of 300 baht (around £6) a day.

However, employers of domestic workers often disregard this.

"Thai society does not see domestic work as work, so the person doing housework is not a worker," Poonsap Tulaphan, director of the Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion said.

A spokesperson for Tesco UK said: “We’d like to apologise for any offence caused and will be removing the scene from the advert going forward.”

The advert has since been removed from the Tesco Lotus's Facebook page.

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