Hawkers to strike across HK if crackdown persists

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 December, 2011, 12:00am


Hawkers plan to embark on a Hong Kong-wide strike if the government persists with a licensing crackdown that they say will kill their businesses.

Slamming the move to tighten safety controls as outrageous, hawkers said they were also considering rolling their trolleys to government headquarters to protest.

Brenda Cheng So-ngor, chairwoman of the Federation of Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories Hawkers Association, said they would meet representatives from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department in a few days, and would ask for leniency until after the Lunar New Year. But if this was refused, they would strike, which would mean that the public would be unable to patronise the hawkers during the year end festive season, Cheng said.

Under the government's new proposal, hawkers would lose their licence if they are prosecuted or convicted six times or more within three months. Licences would also be revoked immediately for serious offences, such as making illegal electrical connections, subletting stalls, and using false information to obtain a hawker licence.

The proposed measures come in the wake of the deadly fire at the Fa Yuen Street market area in Mong Kok, which killed nine people and injured 34 others last month.

'It's unfair,' Cheng said. 'When doctors and taxi drivers violate rules, their licences would only be suspended for a short period of time. Many hawkers are more than 50 years old. If their licences were cancelled, what could they do?

'It's impossible for us to hire workers to rectify structural problems at so many stalls in such a short period,' said Cheng, referring to the government's demands.

The new rules are expected to be introduced in April.