Guards' working day not such a trial

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2011, 12:00am


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Hong Kong's prison officers are feeling hard done by.

The daily grind of travelling to work, six-day shifts and irregular meal times is taking such a toll on the men and women who help keep us safe in our beds at night that they want an hour shaved off their working week.

You have to ask yourself, if that is all they have to complain about, what are they putting in the prisoners' tea?

Unless there are disturbances the Correctional Services Department is not telling us about, the last time there was a serious riot in a Hong Kong detention facility was in the dim and distant days when the city played reluctant host to thousands of Vietnamese refugees. And even then, those behind the wire had police back-up when the going got really tough.

We are not saying that the job of guarding those who transcend Hong Kong's laws is an easy one and that our prison officers do not deserve a fair shake. But there are worse places to be on the right side of a locked cell.

The officers want their existing 49-hour, six-day week cut to 48 hours. That makes it a straight eight-hour day, albeit over six days.

How many of you labour for a lot longer than that on a daily basis and rack up a whole lot more hours Monday to Friday? A six-day week, however the hours are divided up, is common in work-driven Hong Kong.

Then there is the vexing problem of travelling to and from work, which they reckon is a chore because prisons tend to be in remote locations. Hands up for a prison down the end of your street.

And if you really did not like where the office was, why take the job in the first place?

Sorry, officers, but we are not inclined to shave anything off the time you have to serve.