Vice-chancellor urges HKU staff to sign pay-cut consent forms

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 September, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 September, 2002, 12:00am

Hong Kong University's new vice-chancellor yesterday backed pay cuts for staff and urged employees to sign consent forms.

Professor Tsui Lap-chee revealed his stance on the issue for the first time in an e-mail sent to the university's 5,000 staff.

A row erupted last month when former vice-chancellor Ian Davies said the university would have to 'contemplate losing staff' in the long term if employees refused to give consent to the cut.

Unionists have agreed to the cuts of between 1.58 and 4.42 per cent, but have advised staff not to sign consent forms.

Dr Chan Chi-wai, chairman of the university's Academic Staff Association, accused the university's management of being 'barbaric' for forcing them to do so.

Since assuming his position on Monday, Professor Tsui had avoided addressing the issue. But in his e-mail yesterday, he told staff that signing the forms would demonstrate their willingness to 'share economic hardships' with the rest of the SAR.

'Since I assumed duties a few days ago, I have repeatedly been asked to express my views on this daunting issue of a pay cut. It will be derelict of me if I choose not to comment,' he wrote.

'Having gone through the papers on pay reduction that went before the University Council, I must join my predecessor in appealing to all members of staff, asking them to complete and return the consent form.' He added that he himself had signed the form on his 'very first day at work'.

The return deadline for the forms is Thursday.

Dr Chan said Professor Tsui had not mentioned in a meeting with unionists on Thursday the possibility of lay-offs as a consequence of not signing the form - in contrast to comments made by his predecessor.

Still, Dr Chan criticised the university and the University Grants Committee for trying to collect data on staff who had not signed.

He said the data could be used as evidence for retaliation against them in the future.