Despite gov’t ban, domestic worker spotted cleaning 24-story ledge


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Despite the government ban against workers cleaning outside high-rise apartments in Hong Kong, one domestic helper was photographed on a 24-story ledge, doing just that!
Despite gov’t ban, HK domestic worker spotted cleaning 24-story ledge

Hong Kong is a densely populated urban center that is known for its skyscraper-studded skyline. Despite having just an area of 1,092 sq km, it has a population of over 7.4 million.

To compensate for lack of land area, Hong Kong features skyscrapers of varied heights. Apartments, government buildings, schools, offices, malls, and just about every place in Hong Kong are situated in tall buildings.

Despite gov’t ban, HK domestic worker spotted cleaning 24-story ledge
Photo credit: Rochen Monte / Facebook

This meant that most people live in small apartments that are several stories off the ground. Sadly, in their wish to still have clean homes inside and out, a lot of employers make their domestic workers clean the outside walls and windows of their homes – even if these are several stories high!

Last Friday, July 6, Filipina domestic worker Rochen Monte shared a photo of the woman cleaning outside the ledge at an apartment across her building. According to Rochen, she sees this woman cleaning the outside window, every single day, no matter what the weather might be.

Feeling concerned over the woman’s safety, she took a photo in hopes that something could be done to ensure this woman will not meet a dire end at this dangerous spot.

It was back in November 2016 when the Labor Department announced that domestic workers are not supposed to clean exterior windows on high-rise apartments above the ground floor. Workers can clean only if there are grills on the windows and that “no part of the domestic worker’s body should be outside the window, apart from their arms.”

Sadly, this is not strictly implemented; employers rarely get sanctioned for not following the rules.

Despite gov’t ban, HK domestic worker spotted cleaning 24-story ledge
Photo credit: Rochen Monte / Facebook

“[In Hong Kong] there is no penalty clause in the contract that defines the accountability, liability and penalty for those who will violate it. So there is really not much of a deterrent,” revealed Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body spokesperson Eman Villanueva.

“If an employer requests an FDH [foreign domestic worker] to clean outward-facing windows in breach of the SEC, the FDH can refuse such request. The FDH can seek assistance from the Labor Relations Division of the LD, where free conciliation would be provided to resolve their labor disputes,” a spokesperson for the Labor Department said.

According to the spokesperson, people should immediately call the police if they witness instances of domestic workers working in unsafe conditions, just like this helper cleaning the windows of the 24th-story apartment.

— Joy Adalia, The Summit Express


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