A Conservative MP who vowed to improve employment in his constituency owned an outsourcing company in Thailand that paid staff the equivalent of just £2.49-an-hour.
Jamie Wallis, the newly elected MP for Bridgend who BuzzFeed News last week revealed had co-owned a website offering “Sugar Daddy” services to students, is listed on Companies House as the ultimate owner of a Thailand-incorporated company that offered higher salaries for “native English speakers” and also advertised for “female-only” applicants.
Asad Rehman, director of the anti-poverty charity War on Want, said: “This outsourcing of jobs to the Global South follows a pattern whereby corporations exploit workers through lower wages, and poorer labour rights protections and working conditions than they would have to follow in the UK.
“Paying higher salaries to so called ‘native English speakers’ is often a euphemism for paying British ex-pats higher salaries than local workers and is a stark reminder that poverty wages and exploitation is both racialised and gendered”.
Labour called on Boris Johnson to launch an investigation and suspend the whip from Wallis, accusing him of “profiteering at the expense of some of the world’s poorest people”.
Thailand-based Fields Analytics Company Limited describes itself as “an international business process outsourcing company with exciting employment opportunities for all nationalities living in Chiang Mai”.
Companies House filings from last year show Fields Analytics is a subsidiary of UK-listed Fields Holdings Limited. Wallis resigned as a director of Fields Holdings when he was elected to Westminster last month, but he remains the ultimate controlling party according to Companies House. The Fields Group encompasses several businesses offering various online services that are ultimately owned by Wallis.
According to its website, Fields Analytics chose to base itself in Thailand “due to the unique culture and lifestyle options Chiang Mai provides”. But job advertisements posted by the firm last year for call operators and customer service representatives suggest another reason: cheap local labour.
Advertisements for “enquiry handlers” — still live on the Fields Recruitment website — offered 17,000 THB per month for applicants who “must be at least 22-years-old and currently based in Thailand”, to work 40 hours per week. That is equivalent to around £2.49-an-hour.
One advert on Fields Recruitment — identical from the others apart from the line “Only native English speakers will be considered for this role” — offered a salary of 30,000 THB per month. That is nearly double the standard salary for the equivalent job.
An advertisement placed by Fields Analytics last year on Jobaxy — a recruitment company in the Philippines — offered salaries as low as 13,500 THB per month.
In 2013, Fields Analytics posted on its Facebook page that it was seeking a “westerner” to work in its Thailand sales department. The advert specified “female only”.
The same year, the company also posted requesting “Filipino sales operators”, specifically seeking “Pinay sales staff”. Those applicants were offered 12,000 THB per month.
Earlier this month — following his victory in Bridgend in December’s general election — Wallis posted on Facebook from his local job centre that he had been discussing “steps being taken to improve employment in the constituency”.
Labour’s shadow international development minister Alex Norris said: "The exploitative activities of this MP are an absolute disgrace. Just last week, we learned he was taking advantage of vulnerable students, and now he appears to be profiteering at the expense of some of the world’s poorest people.
“It seems there is no low that that is too low for Jamie Wallis. Boris Johnson must urgently investigate these allegations and if confirmed to be true, the whip must now be withdrawn."
Wallis told BuzzFeed News in a short statement: “Employees at Field Analytics are employed and paid in accordance with their skills and hours worked.”
The Conservative Party declined to comment.