Museum workers say they were not consulted on 'big changes'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2007, 12:00am

A union representing workers at public museums has accused the government of pressing ahead with changes it says will have 'a huge impact' on staff without consulting it.

The Government Cultural Services Grades' Alliance said the administration was trying to mislead legislators by telling them staff supported the recommendations of an advisory body, all of which were accepted last month by the Home Affairs Bureau.

One of the key recommendations is to set up a board to manage the 17 museums now run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

'The institutional change will have a huge impact on staff employment at public museums, and future governance ... but our staff's concern and views are not being considered,' said a letter submitted to the Legislative Council's home affairs panel meeting yesterday.

'Some staff have expressed worries over the recommendations and some even object to the proposals ... But the bureau claims most staff support the recommendations ... The government is trying to mislead legislators,' the letter said.

Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Esther Leung Yuet-yin said the government would continue to communicate with the staff in the hope of reaching consensus.

'We understand that staff have their worries and concerns, and we are aware of that,' she told the panel.

After the meeting, Chan Ki-hung, a member of the alliance and chairman of the Hong Kong Curators Association, said many staff were disappointed with the government.

'They claimed in their Legco paper and during the Legco meeting that they have consulted us. But the fact is when they talked to us early this month, they just informed us big changes were on the way. When we asked them for details, they said they knew nothing,' he said.

Legislators at the panel meeting also urged the government to extend the opening hours of public libraries.

'Many go to public libraries to read newspapers and magazines, and students go there to do revision. Some have told me they could not even find a seat ... Some also want to borrow books on public holidays, but libraries are closed,' lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip said.

Deputy Director of Leisure and Cultural Services Chung Ling-hoi said extending opening hours would be considered if resources were available.

Hong Kong Government Librarians Association chairman Edward Tse Wun-shuen said: 'Libraries are not community centres. The main purpose is for users to borrow books rather than providing room for people to read newspapers and magazines.'