By Raphael Blet

HONG KONG- Last week, the Philippines consulate announced that they secured a deal with the Hong Kong government to ban Filipino domestic workers from cleaning windows outside high rise buildings.

Following this announcement, some employer’s groups expressed their concern and requested the government to postpone the ban as they were not consulted.

Some cited the ‘inconvenience’ of such a ban and asked the government some additional time.

On Friday afternoon, the Labour Department released a statement in which it said that the revision will be suspended for one month citing the necessity to strike a balance between the worker’s safety and the interest of employers.

The consulate, which is in charge of adding clauses in the contracts, agreed to postpone the ban.

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Meanwhile, some domestic workers expressed their concern and disappointment.

“We didn’t come here to make our life dangerous. If employers want to clean their window [from outside], they should hire a professional window cleaner,” Josie, a domestic worker told RISE NEWS. “Personally, I didn’t encounter safety issues. I am living in the sixth floor and it’s fine for me to clean the window because there is a grill. I feel safe.”

Asked about the postponement of the ban, she expressed her disappointment pointing on the fact that safety should be a priority.

“I feel very disappointed with the postponement of the ban,” Josie, who declined to give her last name said. “There is no need for them [the government] to think about it, we need our safety first.”

The government’s final decision is yet unclear but many who oppose the potential ban are doubtful about the last verdict as they believe that it will not be in their favor.

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While this is issue is still hotly debated in Hong Kong, Singapore started to ban all domestic workers from cleaning the exterior of windows in 2012.

Many believe that the Filipino consulate should not be in charge of this issue but that – instead – the Hong Kong government should have the sole responsibility to insure the safety of domestic workers.

For many years, Hong Kong has been strongly criticized for the unequal treatment given to its domestic helpers.

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Some helpers were reportedly abused by their employers who took advantage of their vulnerability.

Migrant unions have recently called on the government to give a better treatment to foreign domestic helpers.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

You can also like our RISE NEWS Hong Kong Facebook page to stay engaged with our local coverage. 

Cover Photo Credit: Barbara Willi/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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