Lifeguards threaten strike on eve of meeting

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2005, 12:00am

Bathers planning to visit beaches and public pools later this week could face disruptions again as the lifeguards' union warned of another strike if fresh talks with the government broke down.

The union's vice-chairman, Alex Kwok Siu-kit, said a meeting with Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping, had finally been fixed for tomorrow, after the Leisure and Cultural Services Department discovered that the lifeguards had notified police of a protest planned outside the department for Thursday and Friday.

'We have issued a letter to Patrick Ho on August 2 requesting a meeting, but he never replied to us, not unless they find out we may put on another strike. This proved they have no sincerity to talk to us,' Mr Kwok said.

Tomorrow's meeting will cover the outsourcing issue the Hong Kong and Kowloon Lifeguards' Union has long resisted and which has triggered the strikes.

A spokesman said the department had not received any notice from the union and believed lifeguards would stay on duty for the good of the public.

Two Chinese newspapers reported on Sunday that an anonymous fax had cited Mr Kwok in saying the union had already called for their members to participate in a strike by the end of this week, which they expected to have a participation rate of 90 per cent.

Mr Kwok said the fax was a fake and that the proposed strike was still very much a concept, known only by a few core union members.

'I hope the talk will go well, because if it does, there will be no strike,' he said.

Although Mr Kwok refused to disclose any details of the protest, he hinted it would be large, like the one on August 2, which left 10 beaches and 23 swimming pools fully or partially closed.

'We don't want to cause any disruptions to the public. We apologise if things have to turn out this way,' he said.