Security thwarts unionist labours of love

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 February, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 February, 2002, 12:00am

Sweet-talking unionists hoping to use Valentine's Day to woo the Government and one of their main critics on labour issues were spurned yesterday when they were barred from two buildings.

Hoping to avoid squabbles on the traditional Quarrel Day - the third day of the Lunar New Year - about 20 members of the Confederation of Trade Unions had wanted to smooth the waters for the year ahead.

'We don't want to stir arguments on the Day of Quarrels,' said Terry Ip Ngok-fung, vice-chairman of the confederation. 'Instead, we want to have love talks with the Government and big bosses on Valentine's Day, so they will know our plight and care for our welfare.'

One union secretary, Siu Yin-ying, even showed up at the headquarters of the pro-business Liberal Party in Duddell Street, Central, dressed as the God of Fortune to bring the party wealth and prosperity.

They had been hoping to meet Liberal leader James Tien Pei-chun, who has called for civil servants to take a 10 per cent pay cut to share the economic burden.

But a security guard slammed the gate in the faces of the unionists when they tried to enter the building at about 3pm. There were no staff working because of the public holiday.

They were forced to leave a New Year banner wishing the party good luck at the entrance, together with a box containing 1,200 letters of protest from civil servants.

Mr Ip said the confederation's wish was for full employment and improved labour protection in the Year of the Horse.

'We also want bosses to make more profits, but they should have morals and not achieve it by exploiting workers,' he said.

Undeterred, the group marched on to the nearby government headquarters, where they were again barred at the Battery Path gate and not allowed to protest at the entrance of the Central Government Offices.

A security guard at the gate said that the new security measure was imposed a month ago to protect the offices from right-of-abode seekers after the Court of Final Appeal ruled that more than 4,000 of them had no right to remain in the SAR.

A spokesman for the administration wing said the entrance ban would be lifted 'when people have calmed down'.