Staff owed HK$800,000 as restaurant closes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 March, 2008, 12:00am

Nearly 50 workers plan to seek help from the Labour Department tomorrow to reclaim about HK$800,000 in owed wages after the restaurant they worked for shut its doors following three months of operation under a new boss.

Chiu Hei restaurant, in Mei King Street in To Kwa Wan, was closed yesterday morning, with notices posted on the door saying 'renovation work and business suspended'. The new boss was nowhere to be seen.

Some of the 20 staff who returned to the restaurant said they knew about the closure on Friday as the boss had told them that he faced difficulties in running the business.

One worker said a supervisor had passed out cheques to them on Friday night. But the staff realised the cheques only covered 60 per cent of their salaries - and they bounced when deposited in banks yesterday morning.

Li Kwok-wah, secretary of the Eating Establishment Employees' General Union who was helping the affected staff, doubted it was a scam.

'The boss took over the restaurant only three months ago,' he said. 'I learned from the staff that business had been very good lately; they didn't see any difficulties.

'Besides, the staff told me the new boss ... came by at 11pm on Friday, telling the staff that he had already paid the former boss a lump sum for the business.'

Some staff reported the case to the Hung Hom police station.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the government was monitoring about 20 restaurants it believed might be in danger of winding up.