Staff stunned by stadium's swift takeover

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 May, 1998, 12:00am

Wembley International staff wept or stood open-mouthed and stunned as Urban Services officers and new security guards marched in to take over Hong Kong Stadium at 11 am sharp.

Provisional Urban Councillors voted yesterday to terminate Wembley's management contract after a long-running dispute about its handling of the venue.

More than 40 employees were told they were out of a job and ordered to pack their belongings and return all Wembley property including keys, records and agreements by 7 pm.

'We were told we need not come back. It's so sudden, not even our boss knew,' said Ms Ma, an assistant executive.

'We were not even allowed to go for lunch until the documents had been handed over. We got only a hamburger and soft drink on the last day of work,' she said.

'It's outrageous and unacceptable.' New security guards were posted at all entrances to check vehicles, staff and visitors.

They stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their predecessors, who had not yet received orders from the management to stand down.

Gurung Tekbahadur, 51, a former Gurkha soldier who worked at the stadium for eight months, said he felt uncomfortable having another person performing the same duty next to him.

'I am not going to leave my post until I receive an order from my boss. I don't care what the new guard is doing here and I will perform my duty as usual,' he said.

As a result, some vehicles were checked in by two guards, leaving drivers puzzled by the 'tighter' security.

Other staff were quicker to adapt, removing potted plants as souvenirs early in the morning after hearing rumours of the takeover.

Director of Urban Services Elaine Chung Lai-kwok pledged to retain as many Wembley staff as possible.

'Our intention is to re-employ the existing operational staff as far as possible.' She said they might be retained on a temporary basis in the stadium or civil service, probably until around September.