A Filipina domestic worker who figured in a viral photo shared on social media as he clung precariously to a wall while cleaning windows from outside of her employers’ apartment was terminated from her employment at midnight on August 29, according to The SUN.
MR Sta Cruz, 37, said she didn’t budge as her employers dared her to write a termination letter after she appeared visibly unhappy working for them. She earlier complained about being made to clean the outside windows of their first floor flat in Grand Garden, Repulse Bay, but was told her contract did not include the clause that was recently added to standard domestic helper contracts.
In retaliation, Sta Cruz was fired from her job and was told to leave the apartment deep in the night.
Sta Cruz, who is on her first overseas employment, said she and her employer signed the contract in August last year, but she arrived in Hong Kong to start working for his family on October 15. By that time, the Hong Kong government already confirmed restrictions on window cleaning, to be implemented in January this year.
Despite the implementation of the new policy, employers of Sta Cruz apparenty ignoring it, and reportedly told her to clean the windows thoroughly on a daily basis. The order was enforced even during an approaching typhoon, which explained why the windows on which Sta Cruz cleaned were taped up.
“Ang dulas nga noon kasi maulan,” dela Cruz said. Despite this, she kept her usual practice of cleaning the glass windows thoroughly with wet newspapers before polishing them with a rag.
A concerned neighbor from the opposite building noticed her cleaning the window and took the photos. When she was terminated from employment, Sta Cruz reached out to the same neighbor.
Her complaint about being told to clean the outside windows may have triggered her firing, but that’s not the only thing Sta Cruz have had to put up with during her 10-month employment tenure.
She reportedly was not given a key to the house, was checked on constantly through the CCTVs installed throughout the house, had her passport taken away by her employer, was mostly fed leftovers, and was allowed to sleep only for four hours on average.
Last July, Sta Cruz, a computer science graduate, was told to take her annual leave while her employers went on holiday in the United States. They reportedly promised she would be refunded her air fare if she didn’t terminate her employment ahead of time. But when the employer chose to initiate the employment termination, the charged the vacation to her annual leave, and was said to have deducted an amount from her last paycheck to pay for what was not covered.
“Unang kontrata ko pa lang at ayaw kong magka bad record kasi gusto kong makalipat sa ibang bansa, “ said Sta Cruz. She is now seeking help from the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong so she could be allowed to process a new work contract. For prospect employers, the photos of her cleaning outside windows during a stormy day might be enough to impress them of her dedication to keep her job.