Immigration officers threaten holiday mayhem with work-to-rule

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2012, 8:24am


Frontline immigration officers warned that their planned work-to-rule could paralyse border control points during the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holidays next month if talks with the department over providing extra officers break down.

Four unions representing the officers have demanded 400 extra staff to cope with a surge in visitors expected as a result of the relaxation of travel-permit rules in Shenzhen.

Immigration Service Officers Association chairman Ngai Sik-shui, spokesman for the four unions, said they would arrange another meeting with assistant director Leung Wai-kwong in two weeks.

If the department did not agree to the extra staff this month, they would work to rule for a week, including rejecting overtime and not working holidays.

"All the services from birth to death [registration] could be affected," he said.

Ngai said the 400 officers being sought could act like police tactical units - a reserve force that could serve anywhere there was a manpower shortage.

If approved, he expected that the first batch of 100 officers could be ready in a year.

Mainland authorities have delayed issuing multiple-visit permits to 4.1 million non-permanent residents in Shenzhen to allow time for mainland and Hong Kong officials to discuss the newly eased permit rules.

It is understood that director for immigration Eric Chan Kwok-ki and assistant director Erick Tsang Kwok-wai are on the mainland for talks with counterparts.

The four unions represent up to 90 per cent of Hong Kong's 6,000 immigration officers.