BY MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO, TMT, Manila Times, Feb 11, 2017
THE Hong Kong government has finally agreed to add a safety clause in the job contracts of foreign domestic helpers.
After a month-long consultation with consulates of labor-sending countries, including the Philippines, the Hong Kong Labor and Welfare Bureau was convinced that there is a need to amend the Standard Employment Contract (SEC).
“The HK government agreed to add in the SEC a provision on the cleaning of windows. Both parties believed safety in the workplace must be ensured, and every life, protected,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
In cleaning outward-facing windows, the provision in the new SEC sets conditions that the window being cleaned is fitted with a grille that is locked or secured in a manner that prevents the grille from being opened; and no part of the helper’s body extends beyond the window ledge except the arms.
Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong Bernardita Catalla spearheaded the efforts, according to the DFA.
“To fast-track the negotiations on the proposed additional safety provision, the Philippine consul general and the commissioner for labor, worked vigorously on a series of consultations that resulted in the incorporation of an additional safety clause in the new SEC,” it said.
There are about 330,000 foreign domestic helpers in the city of skyscrapers – 188,000 from the Philippines.
Last year, a shocking photograph of a domestic helper cleaning windows while balancing precariously on a ledge of a high-rise building in the affluent MacDonnell Road in Mid-Levels district stirred protests on the exploitation being faced by migrant workers.
More so, at least three domestic helpers, including a 35-year-old Filipina, have died falling from windows in 2016.