Little chance of promotion for dispensers, court told

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 July, 2010, 12:00am

Disgruntled pharmaceutical dispensers at public outpatient clinics took their grievances to the Court of First Instance yesterday, saying they are deprived of fair promotion prospects.

Union member Leung Hung-lun told Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung that some 180 public dispensers working in clinics managed by the Hospital Authority are in fact civil servants hired by the Department of Health.

The authority took over 59 outpatient clinics seven years ago.

The union sought direction from the judge to prepare their case to challenge what they say is unfair promotion and remuneration packages for the dispensers.

It says their pay and conditions of service should be protected under the Basic Law and be no less favourable than before.

In March, the court allowed leave for the Hong Kong Government Pharmaceutical Dispenser Association to pursue a judicial review, according to their barrister, Sui See-chun.

The association then set up a separate body, the Pharmaceutical Servants' Rights Protection Corporation, to include more dispensers in any possible litigation, and it will now be a party in the upcoming judicial review.

Speaking outside the court, Ip Ping-tim, chairman of the dispenser association, said the Department of Health will have eight new senior and chief dispenser posts for around 50 public dispensers working in the department.

However, there were no promotion prospects for the 180 staff working under the Hospital Authority at outpatient clinics, he said.

General dispensers are paid about HK$28,000 a month, compared to senior and chief dispensers whose salaries can reach HK$38,000 and HK$48,000 respectively, according to the union.

The dispenser association says around 60 dispensers were being used by the Hospital Authority to undertake the duties of pharmacists in overseeing various clinics in the evening.

'The arrangement is unfair to both the dispensers and patients. Dispensers are not receiving the pay of pharmacists, but are told to do that job,' Ip said.

In reply, the Department of Health said the civil servant dispensers working in public hospitals and at general outpatient clinics managed by the Hospital Authority were treated no differently from other dispenser staff of the same rank working under the authority's terms of service which covered terms of promotion, performance appraisal and training.

In December last year, about 20 members of the profession went to the government headquarters in an attempt to meet Secretary for Civil Service Denise Yue Chung-yee over their grievances, but they were unsuccessful.