HONG KONG — Philippine and Hong Kong officials have agreed to review the total ban on Filipino domestic helpers from cleaning the exterior of windows of their employer's flat in high-rise buildings.
The agreement came after the Philippine Consulate General met with Hong Kong's Labour Department led by Commissioner Carlson Chan on Monday morning.
In a statement Tuesday, the Consulate said the exclusion of window cleaning from the domestic helper's tasks, which was proposed for safety reasons, would be guided by "international best practices" in crafting a provision to be incorporated in the employment contracts.
Under international best practices, the employer or a "responsible adult representative" must be physically present to supervise the worker. It also said window grilles should be installed and are locked at all times during the cleaning process.
"It was also agreed that programs for education, training, and public awareness on occupational safety will be undertaken by the Labour Department on this matter," the Consulate said.
In a memo dated October 1, Philippine Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre directed all employment agencies accredited by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) to include a provision in contracts of Filipino domestic helpers starting October 15 banning the latter from cleaning the exterior of windows in high-rise buildings.
The implementation of the order, however, was deferred following a request from the Labour Department, which said it wants to study the ban and work out a way on how to implement it.
The memo was issued almost two months after Filipino domestic worker Rinalyn Dulluog fell to her death while cleaning the windows of her employer's flat on the 49th floor of a high-rise building in LOHAS Park.
Filipino migrant leaders have expressed dismay over the 30-day deferment.
"We hope that whatever discussions and negotiations that will follow as a result of this deferment will include the workers, particularly the Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body (AMCB), who are the ones campaigning strongly on this issue," said Eman Villanueva of AMCB on Facebook.
Employment agencies and employers' associations previously expressed misgivings over the ban, saying that it was not discussed with them and there were other ways to ensure the safety of domestic workers while cleaning the windows. —KBK, GMA News