PHILIPPINES/HONG KONG: Injured Filipino worker sought accident compensation

(Hong Kong, February 18, 2009) A twenty-year-old Filipino waiter, who suffered second degree burns to his face and chest caught fire in a work related accident has now sought compensation for the injuries he has suffered. 

It was on 21 January 2009 that the waiter, Tibio Melvin Delos Reyes, meet with the accident when a flaming Lamborghini wine, which was served to one of the bar’s customers, had been accidentally splashed on him from his back. Melvin was stationed at the cashier¡¦s desk receiving payments when the flaming wine caught him. 

While other customers and bar staffs scrambled to help a customer only a few took notice that Melvin himself was on fire, as well. Had one of the bar staff not been able to come to his rescue promptly, he could have suffered more serious injuries. He said he was clueless as to how the accident happened and only found himself on fire. Only later did he come to learn that fire was caused by the flaming wine a waiter had served. 

In this online presentation, Fr. Robert Reyes, staff member of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), interviewed Melvin and his mother, Cheung Babelyn, who share their personal experience about the difficulties they had in their struggle to obtain remedies for the work-related injuries. 

Melvin has been working since December 2007 with The Cavern. The bar is one of a chain of bars and coffee shops owned by Igor’s Group. 

After the incident though, it took him and his mother, several weeks before they came to know that they could in fact claim compensation for the accident. Instead of giving him proper instructions on what he should be doing to process claims, the records regarding the incident and the documents submitted with the Labour Department in Hong Kong were withheld from them. 

Also, when Babelyn tried to register a complaint with the police she was told it was no longer necessary to file a complaint and that should she decide to do so it should be the human resource office of Melvin’s company to do so. Under Hong Kong law, either the employer or the employee can file a petition for compensation with the labour department. 

Though they were told that application for compensation on Melvin’s behalf has already been made at the Labour Department’s Employment’s Compensation Division, they were not properly informed of what they should do to process the claims. However, only until recently that the Labour Department notified them about receiving a claim for compensation. 

Melvin had been admitted for weeks at a hospital and continued to receive treatment for his injuries. Even though Melvin felt he is not yet fit for work, the management staff of his company are insisting that he return to work. 

The interview can be viewed on YouTube at:

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PRL-010-2009
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Labour rights,