200 laid off as Whimsyland shuts

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 February, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 February, 1999, 12:00am

MORE than 200 people lost their jobs yesterday when a chain of children's entertainment stores closed.

All 12 Whimsyland centres in the SAR shut after operating for more than 10 years. Last night it was uncertain when workers would be able to claim back salaries and allowances totalling about $5 million.

The company has yet to announce if customers holding coupons for games or toys will be granted redemptions.

Urgent meetings with the Labour Department will be held tomorrow.

Workers at the stores arrived for work yesterday to learn that the company was in liquidation.

Notices stating this were posted outside all stores.

About 60 workers sought help from the Hong Kong Department Stores and Commercial Staff General Union.

Union secretary Tang Cheung-sing said the company owed workers one month's pay, half a month's bonus and other compensation.

'The company had problems before the Lunar New Year as it failed to pay workers the year-end bonus,' Mr Tang said.

'It then promised to use profits earned during the first three days of the Lunar New Year to pay the bonus but that was still inadequate. Workers were told the board would meet on Monday to discuss the issue. But now the company has closed before the meeting has been held.' Mr Tang said the workers feared they would have difficulty in finding jobs amid the economic downturn and he predicted more shops would close.

The company had more than 20 branches in Hong Kong at its peak.