Restaurant chains sack over 2,600
From South China Morning Post, 11 April, 6,7 June, 11 July 2002
Eleven restaurants in the Treasure Restaurant Group closed for the last time on 5 June, bringing the number of dismissals to a total 2,100, including 500 who were sacked in May when four restaurants were shut.
Restaurateurs refused to disclose the amount of debt incurred by the group. Within two days of the closure, 1,670 workers filed claims with the Labour Department for severance. It was estimated that each worker would receive about US$6,400 from the Protection of Wages and Insolvency Fund, which is funded by a levy on all Hong Kong companies who each pay around US$77 per year.
The severance bill will take almost US$13 million dollars from the US$22 million fund.
Despite brave words from the Labour Department, obviously another similar closure will bankrupt the fund.
The Treasure closure follows the recent bankruptcy of two other local restaurant chains, the Manchu Chinese Seafood Hotpot chain and the Beishou Seafood restaurants, which both closed on 10 April, leaving more than 400 jobless. Tsang Wing-cheung, a chef at Beishou earning about US$3,333 per month said the company already owed him US$6,410. Other workers had similar claims for wage arrears.
A further hundred workers turned up for work on 10 July only to find the Fook Lam Hot Pot Seafood Restaurant doors locked. A notice claimed renovation work was the reason, but Labour Department officials could not trace the owner. Fook Lam workers were owed pay for 39 days, plus seven days' pay compensation in lieu of notice as ruled by woefully inadequate Hong Kong labour law provisions.
IFALPA Recruitment Ban
From HKAOA Web site, 5 July 2002
The International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA) has enacted a ban on recruitment into Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Veta Ltd. and USAB Ltd. on behalf of the member pilots of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (HKAOA).
The Recruitment Ban comes into effect for any pilot who accepts employment commencing on or after 9 October 2001. The recruitment ban has been enacted in response to Cathay Pacific management's firing 51 Union pilots in July 2001. These pilots were sacked for no reason and they were denied the ability to appeal the decision through the contractual Disciplinary and Grievance procedure. The intention of the ban is to maximise the pressure to re-employ dismissed pilots while the dispute continues. Recruitment of replacement pilots delays a successful resolution to the dispute.
The HKAOA will not provide support for replacement pilots in any circumstances whereby it would normally act on behalf of a member pilot. Such support is a major ingredient of a pilot's airline career and includes assistance in case of accident or incident, discipline and grievance, legal representation in foreign countries, personal insurance, family support, salary negotiation and contract protection.
Should any pilot have questions relating to this ban, please contact the HKAOA.
Thousands protest pay cut
From South China Morning Post, 8,12 July 2002
25,000 to 35,000 civil servants took to the streets in downtown Hong Kong on 7 July to protest the government's high-handed attitude to imposing a pay cut on them without negotiation.
Even though the pay cut is less than the government had originally hoped, it is still pressing ahead with the weaker 1.58 to 4.42 percent in line with the pay trend survey the government itself had devised. Earlier this year the government's Financial Secretary announced that he expected a 4.75 percent pay cut would result from the pay survey.
This show of strength is an eye-opener for the government which did not anticipate such a strong reaction from the government employees, especially since it has been conducting a media campaign aimed at convincing everyone that civil servants are over-paid and under-worked, which now looks like a dangerous and ill-conceived plan, with civil servants' confidence in the administration at rock-bottom.
Some of the civil service unions have decided to take the government to court over the decision to impose the cut via controversial legislation. Liu Kit-ming of the Local Inspectors' Association said the Police Force Council had raised HK$1.24 million to fund the law suit.
Mr Liu said the legislation violated Basic Law regulations including Article 160 which guarantees provisions in civil service employment contracts. He said, "I believe we stand a better-than-even chance - as long as the judge adopts a literal meaning of the Basic Law."
Lee Cheuk Yan of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions said his organisation is considering lodging a complaint with the International Labour Organisation.
Demand: release labour activists
See http://iso.china-labour.org.hk/iso/article.adp?article_id=2638 for the full text of the letter.
On 10 July around 30 trade unionists and labour activists marched to the office of the PRC Foreign Affairs Commissioner in Hong Kong and presented an open letter jointly issued by China Labour Bulletin (CLB), the Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee, and AMRC to demand the immediate release of the detained workers' representatives in Liaoyang, China. The action was staged in solidarity with brothers and sisters all over the world on '10 July - International Day of Action to Release the Liaoyang Five'.