Auxiliary police accused of trying to form trade union

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 December, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 December, 2001, 12:00am

Police management has refused to process an application from a group of auxiliary officers keen to set up a group to promote their welfare and improve communications.

The move follows clashes between management, which has branded the proposed association a trade union, and the part-time officers over the alleged lack of consultation on a controversial set of reforms in 1999.

It is understood that a group of auxiliary officers formed an executive committee and applied to set up the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Association in July.

But an executive committee member said the Licensing Office under the regular force replied in two letters in September and last month that it would not proceed with the application.

'The office said it had sought legal advice and considered our application, but it believed that we were of a trade union nature and asked us to apply with the Registrar of Trade Unions,' the member said.

But he said they were verbally warned by the management of the regular force that any auxiliary officers joining a trade union would not be assigned duties.

Under the Police Force Ordinance, it is unlawful for a police officer to be a member of a trade union and anyone who breaches the rule faces dismissal.

While there is no such specific ban in the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Ordinance, the law states that the part-time force is under the command and direction of the Commissioner of Police.

A police management source confirmed that the application was not processed after legal advice suggested that the proposed group's objectives did not fall within the scope of the Societies Ordinance.

One of the aims of the proposed association is to ensure auxiliary officers are fairly consulted on issues relating to training, welfare and conditions of service. The executive committee member said the management's decision was unfair, adding the regular force had four associations representing the interests of officers of various ranks. 'We are not intending to set up a trade union,' he said.

'We want to set up an association to improve communications within the auxiliary force. We don't want to see a repeat of the reform in 1999, when 99.9 per cent of the auxiliary officers were not consulted before it was conducted.'

Under the reforms, the part-time force will be cut from 5,721 to about 4,500 over a few years and its emphasis will shift from beat patrol to crowd management and internal security. At present, there are 4,633 auxiliary officers.

Police say 332 auxiliary officers resigned or retired last year, compared with 251 in 1999. A total of 256 have resigned or retired so far this year.