76 per cent support ban on cleaning window exteriors: Y! poll

Deborah Choo

A resounding “no” to domestic workers cleaning window exteriors.

76 per cent of nearly 7,000 respondents that took part in an online poll on Yahoo! were in favour of an outright ban on domestic workers from cleaning window exteriors.

In the poll which ran from Tuesday until Sunday, users were asked to choose “Yes” or “No” when asked if they were in favour of such a law, which was recently mooted by Madam Halimah Yacob, the Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

Eight domestic workers have fallen to their death so far this year while cleaning window exteriors in high-rise flats. The most recent incident took place last Thursday when a maid fell from the ninth floor of her employer’s Woodlands HDB flat.

Yahoo! user Shuzhen shared her experience as an employer.

“I have domestic helper, but I never asked them to clean the exterior of the windows! Isn't it silly to clean the exterior since it rains so often in Singapore. Pointless to clean, right?”

Yahoo! user Lensgypsy agreed and said, “They are somebody's daughter, somebody's sister, even somebody's mom. Why employers continue to put their maids in jeopardy is beyond me. Are windows that get dirty often that important? If you cannot stand the sight of it, go and plaster it with opaque decorative film and just clean the inside. It's criminal to risk someone's life like that.”

Another user, Bionogue said there is a safer way to clean windows.

“I've got a part-time house cleaner which comes in weekly. I've gotten her proper tools for cleaning the windows and she doesn't need to lean out at all,” she said.

But user Suakoo defended employers, saying that sometimes domestic workers act without their employers’ instructions.

“When you see a maid climbing up or out to clean the window exterior, you assume that the employer instructed the maid to do so. But that's not always the case. My two Indonesian maids (former and current one) were told on very first day "Do not climb anything to clean the window. Never mind if window is not clean."

But she said her domestic workers went ahead to clean and joked about it, telling her employer someone downstairs had thought she wanted to jump.

Starting next month, all foreign domestic workers will have to undergo a new programme to orientate them about living and working safety in Singapore, announced the Ministry of Manpower recently.