Unions demand more staff to meet Shenzhen rush

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 August, 2012, 2:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Immigration unions are demanding the appointment of 400 extra staff members to cope with an expected increase in the number of mainland visitors following Shenzhen’s relaxation of the Individual Visit Scheme.

On Friday, 10 representatives from four unions covering Immigration Department staff met their bosses to raise their concerns over increased work due to the influx.

From Saturday, Shenzhen will allow 4.1 million non-permanent residents to make multiple visits to Hong Kong under a change in permit rules.

Immigration Service Officers Association chairman Ngai Sik-shui said existing facilities and manpower at border checkpoints would be insufficient to cope with the extra work and more staff were urgently needed.

Ngai said the workforce not only had to perform routine border checks, but also had to deal with other issues such as mainland women trying to enter the city to give birth, cross-border students and other emergencies.

“It is impossible to estimate how many more people will enter the city with multiple-visit permits,” he said. “We estimate that manpower will be a big issue. It is imperative to act now.”

Ngai said the workforce would need at least 400 extra staff members to handle routine border checks and emergencies.

The unions called for a response to their demands from the department’s top officials within one month.

Individual Visit Scheme permits were previously available only to Shenzhen’s 2.8 million holders of hukou or residents’ permits. Non-permanent residents had to return to their home provinces to apply for permits.

The move to allow millions more visitors to cross the border has caused consternation among many Hong Kong residents, who feel the surge will overwhelm local infrastructure and push up prices of consumer goods.