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Pictures of another migrant worker cleaning windows from outside go viral

06 July 2018

The helper is pictured on a ledge outside a top-floor flat in Kornhill Gardens.
(Pictures from Rochen Monte's Facebook page)
By The SUN

The flat is said to be on the a 23rd or 24th floor
A Facebook post showing pictures of a woman, apparently a foreign domestic worker, cleaning windows from outside a high-rise flat in Quarry Bay has gone viral after being posted by a Filipina helper on Jul 6.

Rochen Monte told The SUN that she didn’t know the domestic worker personally, and was not sure if she was Filipino or Indonesian, but she would see her cleaning the outside parts of windows of a flat in block 3, Kornhill Gardens.

“Noon ko pa gustong picturan o video-han pero natatakot akong mapasama,” Monte said. “Pero kaninang umaga hindi ko na matiis na picturan po. Naaawa ako, wala akong magawa.”

Monte said the helper was cleaning from a flat on either the 23rd or the 24th floor of the Kornhill Gardens, but she was sure it was in block 3 as the building was directly opposite theirs.

FDH contracts have stipulated since January last year that no outside cleaning of windows by helpers is allowed.

Under the Schedule of Accommodations and Domestic Duties on page 3 of the contract, it is said: “When requiring the Helper to clean the outside of any window which is not located on the ground level or adjacent to a balcony (on which it must be reasonably safe for the Helper to work) or common corridor (“exterior window cleaning”) the exterior window cleaning must be performed under the following conditions:—
    (i) the window being cleaned is fitted with a grille which is locked or secured in a manner that prevents the grille being opened; and
    (ii) no part of the Helper’s body extends beyond the window ledge except the arms.”
In other words,employers will not be able to make domestic workers clean the outside of the windows unless the residential house is on the ground floor or next to a balcony or corridorwherein the domestic worker can stand safely. If the flat is on a higher floor, the window must belocked with a secured, possiblycrisscrossed or parallel, iron bars that allow no part of the body to be extended outside the window except the arms.

The Philippine government had pushed for the exclusion in late 2016, in the wake of a rash of incidents involving Filipino maids who were killed after falling from a height. In the latest such incident, 35-year-old Rinalyn Dulluog died after falling from a Lohas Park high rise on Aug. 9, 2016.

But despite the ban, some employers appear to continue to flout the law. In one such case, a Filipina domestic worker was pictured clinging precariously to a wall while cleaning windows from outside a Repulse Bay flat on Apr 29 last year, at the height of a super typhoon.

Fearing repercussions after her picture went viral on Facebook, the employer terminated their contract. M.R. Sta. Cruz, 37, promptly filed a case for illegal termination against her employer, and ended up settling it for more than $50,000.

According to the Mission for Migrant Workers, FDWs who are told to clean windows in violation of the provision “can politely explain to (their) employer the new clause on window cleaning for their enlightenment.” If the employers insist, they should be told that they could face consequences for violating an express provision in the employment contract.

“It might also help if you ask the authorities for advice on how to handle and make the employer abide by the contract. If the employer still insists and threatens you with termination of contract, you can file a complaint at the Labour Relations Division (LRD) of the Labour Department. LRDs have areas covered and you can find it in their website or call their hotline: 2717-1771,” said the Mission.

Alternatively, the worker can call the Mission at 2522-8264 for enquiries or assistance.

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