Bus drivers slam RTHK show for 'smearing' them

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

A government-produced television programme meant to promote equal opportunities has angered bus drivers who claim they were smeared in one of its episodes.

A group of bus unions under the Confederation of Trade Unions has criticised the programme - jointly produced by RTHK and the Equal Opportunities Commission - as misleading.

At the centre of the row is an episode of A Mission for Equal Opportunities, broadcast on Tuesday, in which a bus driver was said to have possibly breached the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance by asking a father to fold the pushchair he was carrying otherwise the bus could not move off.

In the dramatised scenario, the father complains to the commission and the bus company offers the man an apology.

Under the law, it can be an offence for anyone to refuse to provide goods, facilities or services to someone on the basis of his or her family status.

A spokesman for the unions said the episode smeared bus drivers by portraying them as inconsiderate.

"Requiring pushchairs to be folded up on buses is a transport regulation as well as a company guideline. It is for passengers' safety and has nothing to do with discrimination," he said.

"In the drama, the father did not ask others to help him fold up the pushchair. He just criticised the bus driver for not being considerate. That is totally unfair."

The spokesman said the group would raise the issue with the Transport Department and ask the commission to clarify the law.

Separately, the Railway Workers General Union and Kowloon Canton Railway Workers Union yesterday also sent a joint petition to the commission over the issue.

In the petition, the unions asked: "If asking passengers to fold pushchairs could breach discrimination law, would it also be regarded as unreasonable or a possible breach of the law for cabin crew members to ask passengers to put their hand-carry luggage in proper places?"

The commission agreed that passenger safety was important, but said bus drivers should be more considerate and offer help under such circumstances, a spokesman was quoted as saying in a report on RTHK yesterday.

The six-episode series was broadcast weekly on TVB Jade from February 19.

It featured the impact of education policy on ethnic-minority students and also highlighted family-status discrimination. Some episodes were based on real-life cases.