Park staff pay if food boxes missing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2007, 12:00am

Suspended Ocean Park employees claimed yesterday the company was being unfair by penalising workers the cost of a drink or a meal whenever a paper cup or lunch box went missing from a kiosk where they worked.

Their complaints came as the company was investigating the disappearance of food containers and utensils said to be worth about HK$100,000 that was discovered on February 27.

Five workers were suspended on March 3 but the company said it was not related to the missing items.

At a press conference yesterday three of the suspended workers said they had been given no reason for the action but the company had promised to give them an answer by Friday. They said staff were having to pay up to HK$1,000 a month for containers missing from their kiosks.

Although the containers cost only a few cents, the company required them to pay the cost of a cup of soft drink, about HK$15, or take-away food boxes ranging from HK$20 to HK$25, the Ocean Park Employees' Union said.

Suspended worker Chan Chi-kin said there had not been a month in the four he worked at the park when he had not had to pay.

'When the management found our kiosk was one or two lunch boxes short, they assumed we offered free meals to our friends and we are required to pay for the meals, not just the containers,' Mr Chan said.

This also had happened to the rest of the 200 staff who operated food kiosks, he said.

The Labour Department said employers were entitled to deduct wages if the company suffered loss or damage due to staff negligence. But union chairman Fanny Wong Suk-fan said it was not fair that the staff bore all the responsibility without any investigation.

'The kiosk was not locked at night, and it is possible the staff gave away two attached lunch boxes in one go during busy hours. The park did not even try to find out why before they blamed the workers,' Ms Wong said.

A company spokeswoman said the policy had been established as a monitoring system. She said staff were required to pay for the meals instead of the cost of the containers because the park had no way of knowing what the container had held.

The union said it would complain to the government's representative on the park's board.