Link stands ground over 3-year leases

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

The Link Management defended its lease-renewal policy yesterday as thousands of catering workers prepared to take to the streets today to protest against the firm for allegedly reneging on tenancy agreements.

Chief executive Victor So Hing-woh said there was no guarantee shop leases would be renewed for a further three years after their initial three-year leases ended.

'We must provide a fair platform for all operators, and we also have to see which operators can help the future development of our shopping malls,' he said.

Catering workers are up in arms after The Link, which operates a listed portfolio of former Housing Authority shopping malls and car parks, refused to renew a lease with a restaurant in Tsz Wan Shan.

About 2,000 workers from more than 70 restaurants will stop work in a protest organised by the Estate Restaurants (Hong Kong Merchant) Association. They will march from Chater Garden to the Central Government Offices at 2pm.

Association chairman Chan Cheung-chor said: 'The Link promised us that existing tenants could have our leases renewed for three years and another three years after the first renewal before the handover from the Housing Authority.

'With that promise, The Link cannot just rent their properties to whoever they want to and should honour its promise to us.

'Many restaurant operators have invested a lot of money in their business because they thought that they could do business at the same location for at least six years. Thousands of workers might lose their jobs once these restaurants have to close down.'

The Link issued a statement last night confirming it had held a meeting with the association in November 2004, but added: 'We have never made a promise in any form. We deny the claims made by the association' regarding consecutive three-year leases.