Cleaners sacked after seeking help on pay

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 September, 2007, 12:00am

Two cleaners were sacked after they lodged a complaint with the Labour Department over underpayment of salaries and deprivation of holidays, a court heard yesterday.

Cheung Kee Environmental, represented by its deputy general manager, Sunny Hui, pleaded not guilty in Tsuen Wan Court to two charges of unfair dismissal.

One of the pair, Yiu Lai-king, who had worked as a cleaner at the Flora Plaza residential estate in Fanling since 2001, told the court she found in January that her salary was more than HK$60 short.

She and nine colleagues went to North District councillor Adrian Lau Tak-cheong and Walker Fung Kai-yuen, then chief executive of the Cleaning Service Industry Workers Union, for assistance.

Ms Yiu said Mr Fung helped them to write a letter and lodge a complaint with the Labour Department, which sent officials to their workplace to investigate on February 23 and 24.

One department official asked Ms Yiu if she was willing to testify about the complaint and she agreed.

From then on, a staff meeting was held every other day by her supervisor in an effort to track down the complainants.

'Our supervisor Mr Or always asked us about who lodged the complaint,' Ms Yiu said.

On November 17, she and fellow cleaner Lee Mun-hing - who later was also fired - were asked to sign a termination letter, but they refused.

Six days later Ms Yiu was told by the firm that she would be sent to Sha Tin, but she refused as it was not stated in her employment contract.

She was then asked to sign a resignation letter stating she 'resigned because I don't accept the re-deployment', but she again refused.

On November 30, the cleaners were informed of a salary increase but she and Ms Lee were fired. In December, the Labour Department mediated to resolve the dispute.

The hearing will continue on September 27.