26 sacked masseuses in $2m wage claim

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 April, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 April, 1999, 12:00am

Twenty-six sacked masseuses appeared in court yesterday demanding more than $2 million in wages and benefits from the owner of a defunct sauna and massage parlour.

They were among 50 masseuses employed by Rebecca Ho Wai-ling at the Windsor Sauna in Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Deputy Judge Andrew Chung On-tak was told.

They were not paid a basic salary but received $46 for each 45-minute massage, plus lunch and travelling allowances. Tips provided most of their income.

In August 1995, the landlord told Ms Ho that the lease would not be renewed. Barrister Louis Chan, for the four plaintiffs on legal aid, said trouble began two months later when Ms Ho asked 'a number of the masseuses to sign letters of resignation'.

They were then re-employed, 'thereby breaking or attempting to break the continuity of the masseuses' employment with the defendant'.

The break would affect any benefits the employees would be entitled to in the event of dismissal or the business winding up.

When the masseuses went to work on November 5, 1995, they were greeted by 'a group of strongly built men, about 10 in number', sitting in the lobby of the premises.

Mr Chan said: 'The group of men orally threatened them by words to the effect that if any of the masseuses wanted to make trouble, she or they would be beaten up.' They were dismissed later that month, one after 15 years' service.

The other claimants are representing themselves.

The hearing continues in the Court of First Instance.