Hong Kong firemen have working hours cut, but not to satisfaction of union

Fire Services Department chief confirms cut to 51 hours a week but this still means they have longest working week of all those in disciplined services

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 8:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 10:54pm

A reduction in official working hours for frontline fire officers from 54 to 51 hours a week still has them working the longest shifts of all those in the disciplined services.

Director of Fire Services Daryl Li Kin-yat, who became head of the department in mid-August, told Eastern District Council that the Civil Service Bureau had confirmed the cut in working hours for operational staff from July 18.

The change was confirmed following a trial after unions pressed for the working week to be cut to 48 hours. The bureau approved a reduction to 51 hours based on the principle of not adding fiscal or human resources while maintaining service quality.

Hong Kong Fire Services Department Staffs General Association chairman Jerry Nip Yuen-fung said he would keep pressing for a 48-hour week. “We just hope the government can treat us fairly.”

Nip said their hours were still the longest compared to the 48-hour week for the police, the Customs and Excise Department and the ambulance stream in the Fire Services Department.

Li was also asked about an alleged sexual assault case involving a video released on Monday showing two suspected firemen having their private parts exposed.

The director said the department was very concerned about the case. “Following strict discipline is a top rule. We will not tolerate any deviation from this,” he told Eastern district councillors who asked him about the case.

“The Fire Services Department values team work and we therefore enjoy a good relationship,’’ Li said .

“But of course some of our colleagues may not have handled [the relationship] well. I do not rule out the possibility that they may have undertaken incorrect actions,” he said.

Li said an internal investigation team had started to examine the incident.