Most of the government-outsourced public toilet cleaners have been working in a bad environment, an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, according to the Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs.
The call came after the labor group found in its survey that the government has failed to provide basic amenities for the cleaners, including supply of drinking water in some cases, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Unveiling the results of the survey, which interviewed 88 outsourced public toilet cleaning workers in March and April, the group said 42 of the 50 surveyed public toilets around the territory, which are managed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), have duty rooms where cleaners can take a rest, but such rooms are generally too small and full of miscellaneous items including cleaning equipment, and 17 of them are not equipped with a fan or ventilation system.
The survey also found that 33 of the cleaners bring their lunch to work.
The toilets are not equipped with fridges or other devices that they can use to freeze or heat up food.
The group believes a major factor putting outsourced toilet workers in an environment with poor hygiene and working conditions is the current outsourcing system that tends to award contracts to the lowest bidders.
The group suggested that the FEHD first renovate public toilets that are more frequently used and those with assigned cleaners.
It is also recommend that the FEHD improve the workers’ situation, for instance, each of the toilets should be equipped with a drinking fountain.
Secretary for Food and Health Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee told lawmakers on April 11 at a special meeting of the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee that the government will refurbish the public toilets managed by the FEHD.
Based on preliminary estimates, the refurbishment works for about 240 public toilets will cost over HK$6 million, Chan said.
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