Friday, 14 October 2016

Clearing the Issue on Windows

The Philippine consulate wants to ban domestic helpers from cleaning windows
There have been far too many incidents of maids -- oh I mean domestic helpers -- falling to their deaths to clean windows for their employers.

Either the bosses are not giving advice on how to clean the windows safely, or they are expecting every inch of the windows to be clean, which in some cases is absolutely impossible without falling out.

I periodically clean the windows of my flat, but there are some areas I cannot reach at all and just have to leave them as is. Nothing's perfect.

Cleaning windows outside is dangerous at any height
But alas, there have been several cases of maids falling out of windows only to die, and that's not worth it at all.

Despite complaints from the Philippine government through the consulate here, the Hong Kong government up to now has done nothing about it.

It was only when the consulate announced earlier this week that a new contractual clause with Filippino domestic helpers state that cleaning the outside of windows was no longer part of their duties did the Hong Kong government freak out and ask for time to figure out how to solve the matter.

So the fact that several domestic helpers have died because they fell out of windows while working in Hong Kong was not enough of an impetus for the government to look into the matter and perhaps discuss the issue with the Philippine consulate?

It seems civil servants also expect super clean windows even though the view outside is basically smog anyway.

The ban was supposed to take effect on Sunday, but after the Hong Kong government pleaded for time, did the consulate postpone the ban until November 14.

Matthew Cheung needs more time to sort out the issue?
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung welcomed the delay, saying more time was needed to work out the new measures as well as seek a balance between the interests of employers and domestic helpers.

What's there to sort out? This is a matter of safety; everyone will have to just deal with either cleaning the exterior of windows themselves, figure out a procedure and tools to clean them safely, or leave them as is.

By the same token the Philippine government should have discussed the issue with the Hong Kong authorities before instituting the ban.

In Singapore, domestic helpers there haven't had to clean the exterior of windows since 2012, unless the employer is present to supervise the work and a grille is installed and locked at all times during the process.

If and when this contractual clause comes into effect, it could also lead to other countries to have similar clauses in their domestic helpers' contracts, like Indonesia.

As many of these domestic helpers are the main bread winners back home, making their work more safe would be a win-win for everyone. And anyways, haven't we already developed self-cleaning window technology?




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