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Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC)

Hongkong Post staff stage protest against disability discrimination at work

Workers claim management brushed aside complaints; they say will bring issue before equality watchdog and Ombudsman

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 August, 2017, 2:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 August, 2017, 6:31pm

Hong Kong’s postal authority has been ­accused of failing to properly handle discrimination against workers with disabilities, with one union saying that cases of name-calling, forced resignation and unfair treatment were only the tip of the iceberg.

Victims claimed complaints made to the management of Hongkong Post had been brushed aside and attributed to misunderstandings and communication errors, and said they intended to bring the matter before the­ equality watchdog and the Ombudsman.

About 10 workers and representatives of the Rights Association of Hongkong Post Contract Staff staged a demonstration outside the General Post Office in Central on Thursday morning.

They said the issue had become more serious since former postmaster general Jessie Ting Yip Yin-mei stepped down in March to become right-hand woman to the city’s leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

In one case in June, a senior postal inspector was said to have referred to a union representative with a cleft palate as “broken mouth”.

A complaint was lodged and, according to a written reply from Hongkong Post in August, the inspector said it was only a “nickname” and not intentional.

The authority admitted the comment was “inappropriate” and said it had cautioned the inspector involved.

Post office supervisor accused of disability discrimination

Another case involved a worker suffering from hearing loss who joined the Philatelic Bureau in March. The union claimed he had been unfairly targeted by a superintendent of post over issues that were outside of his scope of duty, and had even been asked to go back to school and learn sign language.

After suffering emotional distress, the worker asked to resign in May, and the superintendent drafted a resignation letter for him.

After an investigation, Hongkong Post said the superintendent had acted as she did only “out of care for colleagues” and had been reminded to give guidance with caution in future.

Union chairman Tse Tin-wing said many others had endured abuse or discrimination but chosen to stay silent for fear of losing their jobs.

Contracts for the organisation’s 2,000 contract staff are renewed annually, contrary to the arrangement for 5,000 civil servants which are hired on a permanent basis.

Post office supervisor accused of disability discrimination

Tse said the new postmaster general, Gordon Leung Chung-tai, had refused to meet the association. They planned to take the issue to the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Ombudsman.

In response, Hongkong Post said equal opportunities and anti-discrimination policies were already in place. It promised to follow up on the incidents with the union.

“[Hongkong Post] will not accept or condone discriminatory behaviour, which is against regulations,” a statement said.

Any workers suffering discrimination over a disability were urged to file complaints, which would be handled in a “fair and confidential” manner, it said.