Plan to protect sacked strikers angers Liberals
MAY SIN-MI HON
The Liberal Party said it would have to reconsider its support for a government proposal to allow workers sacked illegally to claim reinstatement, if such rights were extended.
The proposal covers five groups: those sacked during pregnancy, during paid sick leave, after a work-related injury, after giving evidence to enforce labour legislation or after exercising trade union rights.
Under such circumstances, the Labour Tribunal could order an employer to reinstate a worker.
But legislator Chan Yuen-han, of the Federation of Trade Unions, sponsored an amendment yesterday to the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2000 to extend the categories to cover staff sacked for taking part in a strike.
Labour officials expressed reservation and the Liberal Party was strongly opposed.
At a Legco manpower panel meeting yesterday, Deputy Commissioner of Labour Alfred Chan Wing-kit said such a move had wide implications.
'Do we have to protect the rights of those going on wild-cat strikes?' he said. 'The Labour Advisory Board should be consulted before any extension of rights is proposed.' Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said lax employees might avoid being sacked by going on strike.
'The employees may abuse their rights if the amendment is passed.
'If the Government is to review this, we have to reconsider whether to support legislating on the five groups of workers,' he warned.
His party colleague, Ho Sai-chu, who also represents employers on the Labour Advisory Board, said: 'I would hold reservations on any new proposal.' But Democrat Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said: 'The Government should not be intimidated by the Liberal Party.' For the two-year period to the end of June last year, the Labour Department handled 6,126 complaints from dismissed workers.
Of these, 806 were deemed to be unreasonable and unlawful dismissals, and 34.4 per cent, 277 cases, involved pregnant staff.