Crackdown on lazy workers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 February, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 February, 1999, 12:00am

A crackdown on lazy staff has been launched at the Regional Services Department as part of reform by its new chief to improve efficiency.

Two taskforces have been set up to investigate district branches and department venues to check whether staff are doing their jobs properly.

And a six-point directive on staffing proposals has been delivered, asking section heads to adhere to the zero-growth policy. In an unavoidable case where extra workers are needed, part-time or contract staff should be hired.

The crackdown comes as some night-shift Urban Services Department drainage staff were found to have been playing cards during working hours.

Director of Regional Services Helen Yu Lai Ching-ping said: 'The principle of value for money is always on our minds. We are taxpayers, too, and we want our money to be used in the best way.' Mrs Yu, who took over the post in November, said the department was considering allowing private firms to take over more of its jobs.

The move followed the Audit Commission's criticisms of the refuse collection service.

Mrs Yu said that over the past two months, 29 of the department's refuse collection teams had been disbanded and private firms had been hired to do their work. The exercise saved more than $50 million a year for taxpayers. She said the department would look at other ways to privatise its jobs.

She also set up a performance audit unit to make surprise checks on the performances of staff.

The unit, directly accountable to Mrs Yu, also goes to markets or public toilets to check hygiene.

Mrs Yu said: 'I also call the department's inquiry hotline occasionally to see how our staff answer public inquiries.' The department received 8,604 complaints in the first 10 months of last year, 97.7 per cent of the number for 1997.

The department's staff union said the surprise inspections would put extra pressure on staff.

In a letter to Mrs Yu, the union said: 'During the economic downturn, people are especially demanding of civil servants who have comparatively stable incomes.

'Under this situation, civil servants' working pressure has been mounting.'