Two sacked driving instructors will not be rehired by the Hong Kong School of Motoring because the company says it "cannot co-operate with them", according to a union leader who interceded on the duo's behalf yesterday.
Wong Yu-loy, the organising secretary of the Confederation of Trade Unions, said the company's chief executive, Taurus Leung Ying-kwan, made it clear in a meeting yesterday that the instructors would not be rehired.
"He said that's because the company 'cannot co-operate with them' any more," Wong said.
"He said the only thing he can do is to write them a good reference letter so they can get a job somewhere else."
Wong was speaking after the hour-long meeting at the school's Sha Tin training centre.
The dispute was sparked earlier this month when the company fired instructors Ho Tak-ming, 50, and Kevin Ma Wai-hung, 51, without giving them any reasons.
Ho and Ma believe they were fired because they have been trying to set up a union, and are calling it an "unfair dismissal".
With the support of the Democratic Party and the League of Social Democrats, they mobilised three cars to block the entrance to the company's Sha Tin training centre for three hours yesterday.
The action affected 17 people who were supposed to take their driving tests.
Ho said he was disappointed that the company had refused to rehire them. He did not believe Leung's claim, during the meeting, that the firings were not linked to the unionising drive.
Managers had told instructors they would not qualify for a performance bonus of HK$5,000 unless they promised not to join a union, Ho said.
Another driving instructor, Steven Lin Kwok, 59, said before yesterday's meeting that the company had threatened to fire him if he continued to support Ho and Ma.
Lin - who had staged a hunger strike for about 50 hours to back the two men - fainted at the end of yesterday's meeting and had to be taken to the Prince of Wales Hospital.
It was his second trip to hospital over the same issue.
He first started a hunger strike on January 21, and collapsed after about 70 hours during a meeting with Commissioner for Transport Ingrid Yeung Ho Poi-yan.