Polytechnic staff upset over closure
By WONG JOON SAN
THE Hong Kong Polytechnic has informed its specialist marine staff that they will be made redundant and will close its marine engineering course by 1995.
''Four of the staff members are on super-annuable terms in the Department of Mechanical and Marine Engineering, where there are a number of staff on contract who will be retained,'' said David Taylor, a senior lecturer on contract in the Polytechnic's department of mechanical engineering.
It is understood two of the four staff members were happy to leave the service while the other two were not.
However, all the five, including Mr Taylor have expressed disappointment at the way the Polytechnic had handled the matter.
One of the lecturers, who declined to be named, said he was unhappy with the Polytechnic for carrying out this redundancy exercise ''without due consideration of staff qualifications or previous experience''.
Another lecturer said the decision to do away with the course was ''short-sighted'' as the territory needed many engineers to carry out the new port and airport projects.
The five lecturers were also unhappy with Professor T.P. Leung, dean of the engineering faculty at the Polytechnic, who they claimed refused to see them as a group.
They said he had agreed to see them individually about the redundancy matter.
Mr taylor said the marine staff were well qualified and had taught on all courses offered by the department, so there was no question of their services no longer being required.
An aeronautical engineering course in the same department would cease one year earlier than the marine course, but none of the specialist aeronautical staff were being made redundant, he said.
''Thus, the Polytechnic management are arbitrarily making super-annuable staff redundant and thus changing an accepted policy that contract staff should leave first,'' he said.
''We, as a group, object to this move in principle as it is a convenient way of reducing the staff numbers.'' Prof Leung declined to comment on Mr Taylor's allegation.
He said plans for the review had been going on for some time after a meeting between heads of various bodies, including the then Marine director Michael Tse.
At that meeting it was decided that the various engineering courses offered in Hong Kong should be united, Prof Leung said.
''So it is not anything new,'' he said, adding that similar courses were being offered at two technical colleges run by the Vocational Training Council in Tsing Yi and Chai Wan, which were opened this year.
He said limits on resources that had to be paid for and supported with approval from relevant authorities, and the administration had no choice but to cut manpower.
The Hong Kong Shipowners Association has a programme to sponsor students for such courses.
Mr Taylor said there was also the separate issue of the loss of marine engineering training facilities in the world's number one container port.
''This will, in the long term, create problems for the many firms requiring well-qualified marine staff,'' he said.