CityU staff plan hunger strike over job security

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 May, 2007, 12:00am

City University staff will step up protests against a reported plan to sack 112 staff, including staging a hunger strike later this month.

Representatives of the university's teachers' union and the Federation of Hong Kong Higher Education Staff Associations yesterday handed a petition to Richard Ho Yan-ki, acting head of CityU, demanding a fair decision over the fate of 112 lecturers at the Community College of City University.

They presented a red coffin to Professor Ho yesterday.

Tam Pui-ho, head of the teachers' union, said 'coffin' in Chinese suggested both 'promotion' and 'reduction'. Promotion referred to the elevation of Professor Ho, previously vice-president of CityU, while reduction suggested threats to job security faced by some staff.

There were protests following rumours that some staff members, seconded in the 1990s to what is now the community college, would lose their university superannuation status. Protests stirred again when the university announced in February that 112 superannuated staff members would be fired in the 2008-09 year.

Professor Ho said he would try to maintain levels of pay and welfare, although he could not guarantee employment for all of the staff concerned.

After several rounds of negotiation with staff representatives, CityU proposed three options, including the suggestion that the staff concerned would continue to be employed by the university. The proposals have been accepted by the CityU staff association, the largest staff group at the university.

But Dr Tam said that while the university remained the employer, issues such as pay adjustments and personnel management would be left to the community college.

His group plans to stage a hunger strike on May 22 and 23, with staff from other universities taking part.

'We want the university to respect tenures, which prevent academic work from being interfered with by the management,' he said.