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Transcript of remarks by SLW on window-cleaning duty of foreign domestic helpers
     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, regarding the window-cleaning duty of foreign domestic helpers after attending the opening ceremony of the "Love's Team" carnival to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Swire Properties' Community Ambassador Programme today (October 14):

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: First of all, we attach great importance to the work safety of all workers in Hong Kong, including, of course, foreign domestic helpers. We've got a large population of them in Hong Kong, about 347 000. They play a very important role here. But I think work safety is not something we can compromise. We must ensure their safety. But at the same time, we have to strike a balance between their safety and also the interest of employers on the other hand. The reason is, in some cases, there may be situations where the windows are in a relatively safe place - for example if situated on the ground floor of a house or with safe corridor outside and also if you have iron grills/window bars - all these would certainly be useful preventive measures. So what we are suggesting to the Philippine Consulate-General in Hong Kong is to ask them to suspend the inclusion of the clause of prohibiting the cleaning of exterior windows for domestic households in Hong Kong, and ask them to give us a bit more time to discuss, to have a dialogue and also take account of the views of various stakeholders, including employers and employees as well, so that we can find the best way forward. That is why we have been in touch with the Philippine Consulate-General over the last few weeks. As far as the Indonesian Consulate-General is concerned, we have also been in touch with them, explaining that we are in touch with the Philippine Consulate-General. Before we reach a decision on the best way forward, they agreed not to do anything in the meantime. The situation is: we are purely asking for a little more time, a little space, for everybody to have a chance to discuss. I think this is important for us to engage in a dialogue, and to hear everybody's views and find the best way forward. Their present clause is far too all-embracing and in fact is too broad brush. They failed to take account of individual circumstances where window-cleaning is absolutely safe. We got to strike a balance here.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Friday, October 14, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:39
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