Firefighters might work to rule or even take to the streets if no consensus is reached with the government when they meet on Monday over a proposed reduction in night shifts.
Chairman of the Fire Services Department Staffs General Association Lee Tak-kei said that about 2,000 members - a third of frontline personnel - voted against the government proposal in union meetings yesterday and on Thursday.
Lee said that despite the fact they had been fighting for a 48-hour work week for 21 years, they had to vote against the proposal as cuts in night shifts might put the public at risk.
The association said the department's proposal would cut the number of firefighters and fire engines on night duty by about 10 per cent.
A department spokesman said the proposal had taken into account past demands on the service and the need to maintain service quality and standard operating procedures. He said the department would try to reach common ground with the union.
Firefighters have sought shorter hours for many years, but have been bound by three conditions: there can be no additional costs or manpower, and the current level of service must be maintained.
Lee would not rule out industrial action if the plan was implemented without the support of members.