Extra hours for Macau ferry crew are not dangerous, court rules

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 March, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 March, 2003, 12:00am

The lives of passengers travelling from Hong Kong to Macau on New World Ferry jet foils will not be endangered if the night crew are given increased working hours, a High Court judge ruled yesterday.

Justice Michael Hartmann made the ruling in a judicial review brought by the Merchant Navy Officers Guild to challenge moves by New World Ferry to try out a new roster scheme. The changed roster would add two to three nights of duty to the monthly schedule.

The union made waves after New World Ferry successfully applied to the Director of Marine to change its working permits. At the time, the company said its motivation was economic. The union claimed that the re-scheduling would increase the crew's hours of duty to such an extent that fatigue would set in and safety would be jeopardised.

The union told the Court of First Instance that the only study on fatigue levels was 18 years old and that a new report was needed to demonstrate whether the changes applied for by the company were hazardous.

The judicial review application targeted the legality of Director of Marine's decision to grant the permit changes without a new fatigue study.

In dismissing the union's objections, Mr Justice Hartmann found the Director had not ignored safety considerations.

'To the contrary,' he said, 'The evidence indicates that the Director of Marine was at all times conscious of his duty to ensure requisite levels of safety and acted as he saw fit in accordance with that duty.' Mr Justice Hartmann pointed out the increased work hours fell within the maximum recommended by the old study and that the changes applied for were conditional.