Hong Kong laundrymen to continue serving on Royal Navy ships

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 May, 1997, 12:00am

Hong Kong laundrymen will continue to serve on Royal Navy ships after the handover following a deal signed with a company in the territory.

The future of the men, who work in nearly every big ship, had been in doubt.

Hong Kong laundrymen have been recruited since the 1930s and, although classified as civilians, have gone to war with vessels. Several have died in action.

In the past, individual agreements were made between small Hong Kong firms or families and individual ships, with the jobs jealously guarded. They were seen as positions where nearly all the pay could be saved.

The men receive accommodation and food, and individual servicemen pay them for their weekly laundry. The monthly laundry bill for an officer amounts to more than $1,200 in the tropics.

The new contract is between the Ministry of Defence and Worldwide Laundry Services, a partnership between Serco (a services company working for the ministry) and Shao Brothers of Hong Kong.