Sacked drivers take on firm in injury row

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 December, 2006, 12:00am

Nine drivers injured at work lodged a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Commission yesterday, claiming their employers fired them although they were fit to work.

The drivers, formerly employed by Trade Travel (Hong Kong) and its subsidiary Intercontinental Hire Cars, said they were told to stand by at home for work orders for the past two years after suffering from a variety of back problems caused by sitting at the wheel for long hours and carrying heavy luggage.

Luk Chun-wing, 48, one of the complainants, showed the commission a copy of his medical assessment report issued by the Labour Department two years ago, which stated that he lost only 1 per cent of his earning capacity permanently after suffering from bruising to his back. Although his employer continued to pay him until two months ago, he was never offered any work over a two-year period.

Mr Luk said he was fired in August after Intercontinental paid him the full compensation for his injury.

'They sent people to check on me a few times to make sure that I was at home standing by during the past two years. I was under so much pressure that they would soon sack me that I now have mild depression in addition to the physical pain I am suffering,' he said.

He had had eight neck operations in the past two years.

The commission said it would investigate whether the employers had breached the Disability Discrimination Ordinance, under which they must provide reasonable arrangements for injured employees as long as they are still able to work - such as moving staff to less physically demanding jobs.

Francis Hui Wai-bong, a Caritas social worker who helped the workers in the case, said driving companies should provide proper instructions for employees on postures to minimise injuries.