Vow amid welfare strife

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 November, 2007, 12:00am

The government says it will decide whether or not to give additional grants to welfare groups by the end of the year.

Peter Cheung Kwok-che, Social Workers' General Union president, said the government promised a Lump Sum Grant Steering Committee meeting yesterday it would make a decision about possible additional recurrent expenditure of HK$600 million to enable NGOs to increase staff salaries.

'We understand that cannot be decided by the [Social Welfare] Department, but the [Labour and Welfare] Bureau or chief secretary,' Mr Cheung said. 'We will make our requests to the bureau and the chief secretary soon.'

He said social workers were arranging a meeting with Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen.

On Thursday, 3,900 social workers published a signed statement in a Chinese-language newspaper urging the government to review the lump sum grant system, saying: 'We're ready for a strike!'

Mr Cheung, who is also a convenor of Fight for Equal Pay Equal Work, said the alliance would meet next week to decide on further action.

Welfare sector legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said he was disappointed that the government had failed to give a clear reply to welfare groups' requests.