Better pay, conditions for airport security work luring ex-staff back, firm says

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 5:44am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 5:44am

A range of workplace sweeteners have attracted dozens of frontline security officers back to work at Chek Lap Kok airport.

In March, the government-owned Aviation Security Company (Avseco) sent out hundreds of letters in an attempt to rehire former staff, stating that the work environment had "greatly improved" in the previous 12 months.

Calvin Huen, senior manager for operations support, said: "The response is encouraging, as 44 ex-employees have rejoined the company since March."

The improvements include better starting salaries and regular rises, an education subsidy, more relaxed regulations when applying for holidays, a clear promotion system and better internal communications.

In recent years, Avseco - which is jointly owned by the Airport Authority and the government - has faced staffing issues due to the unique pressures of the job and the airport's remote location, which adds to transport costs and necessitates a long daily commute.

The letter follows the shock firing of Sidney Chau Foo-cheong as Avseco executive director on August 7 last year.

He was fired shortly after the Independent Commission Against Corruption launched an investigation into allegations that he had improperly claimed HK$760,000 in overtime pay without board approval between 2008 and 2013.

In a letter addressed to "all former Avseco colleagues", acting assistant executive director Sit Kwan-cheung said the company had "invested a large amount of resources in the past year to improve the welfare and working environment of our employees".

The starting salary of a frontline officer is now HK$12,820 per month, which includes a HK$600 allowance after completing a basic training course. This figure jumps to HK$13,350 after three months' probation.

Staff with at least 12 months' experience can get up to HK$14,520, and after two full years the maximum salary is HK$15,090. Both include a special HK$3,000 bonus.

The letter also pointed out that in the past year, more than 130 staff had been promoted to team-leader positions or higher.

One of the more unusual changes allows staff to carry mobile phones while on duty. But it is understood that a number of officers - some overseeing the X-ray screening process - have been caught using a mobile inappropriately while on duty.

A spokesman for the Airport Authority refused to answer questions about the recruitment drive or the new measures.

The Civil Aviation Department said: "Recruitment and other staff issues are routine administration matters of Avseco. CAD has no comment … concerning these aspects."

Avseco currently has more than 50 vacancies. Its total workforce is about 3,800 strong.