Lift contractors dispute zero score in performance ratings
Two registered elevator contractors whose companies scored an alarming zero marks in part of the performance rating system say that their marks were lost on minor breaches which have no impact at all on lift safety.
"We have no problem safety-wise," said a spokesman for Techfaith Engineering, which was ranked last among 35 contractors on the Contracts' Performance Rating list.
According to the Electrical and Mechanical Service Department's latest report, although the company scored zero out of 50 in the maintenance index, it scored full marks of 50 in the safety index. This brought its total performance index to 50 out of the total 100 marks.
"Our maintenance index lost marks just because our engineers showed up late for checks and for other very minor problems," Techfaith's spokesman said.
"One cannot … come to the conclusion that our lifts are dangerous … This affects our business."
Nikkin Lifts & Escalators, which came in second last in the list, also protested its ranking.
"The system deducts our marks even for very trivial mistakes, such as our staff writing the wrong dates on the logbook, which is a three-mark penalty," said its spokesman.
Meanwhile, a unionist attributes the deteriorating standard of lift maintenance services to an industry-wide manpower shortage caused by keen competition among the elevator contractors.
Former legislator Ip Wai-ming, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said the contractors would often compete for contracts by offering very low prices. This directly worsens the standard of services in the industry, he said.
"The worst case I have ever heard of is a contractor who won a bid because he charged only about HK$1,000 per lift for maintenance," Ip said.
"Let alone to ensure the quality of the mechanical parts for repair, the amount the contractor got paid may not even be able to cover its workers' salaries."
About 5,000 technicians work in the lift maintenance industry, servicing about 60,000 lifts city-wide. Even workers with more than 10 years of experience could earn as little as just HK$12,000 a month, Ip said.
"Compared with jobs of a similar nature, say in the construction industry, this salary is not attractive at all to bring new blood into the industry," he said.
"The number of lifts we have will only increase, and so the number of lifts that a worker is responsible for will also increase.
"This is not a healthy trend as the amount of time they can spend on a lift will have to decrease and they may overlook some problems."
Last month, more than 200 repair workers from Otis Elevator went on a four-day strike to call for a pay rise of at least 15 per cent for all staff.