Salary reviews and secretive meeting procedures trigger widespread opposition to administration Staff protests and strikes are threatening to disrupt Baptist University over salary reviews and procedures adopted at council meetings. Fred Chiu, an associate professor in sociology and elected staff representative in the council, said the procedures had restricted members' rights to speak. In an open letter sent to vice-president for administration Mok Man-hung this week, he demanded that the council at its meeting on June 23 discuss his request for legal services so he could seek a review of the procedures. He said the way council meetings were conducted infringed members' rights of initiating proposals for discussions. He pledged to seek legal advice on his own if his request was turned down. 'I will keep on asking that the item be discussed at the meeting,'' he said. He also questioned the council's decision banning members from revealing details of its plan to set up a branch campus in Zhuhai at the Beijing Normal University (BNU) site. HKBU president Ng Ching-fai, designated spokesman on the project, said formal approval from the Ministry of Education for the BNU-HKBU United International College was expected to be given later this month. The university would admit its first student intake in September next year. But Dr Chiu said staff knew little about the details. Many were worried they might have to work there, as well as about the financial viability of the project. HKBU had taken out a loan of $100 million from its School of Continuing Education to finance the venture. 'The limit of the liability from the project has to be made very clear,' Dr Chiu said. 'The university is a publicly-funded institution after all.'' Student Union president Chan Kai-chun said students were very disappointed about the lack of consultation over the venture and also worried about possible financial losses. Chairman of the HKBU Faculty and Staff Union, To Yiu-ming, said staff had not been consulted over the Zhuhai plan either. The union's opinions had also been neglected by the university's steering committee looking into the latest pay review. He warned HKBU staff could go on strike in protest against the salary plan. 'We will issue an open letter to the university and university council which details our worries and suggestions over their proposals. We will organise staff rallies and some have suggested taking industrial actions or even a strike. But that's our last resort,' he said. The committee has proposed a 10 per cent ceiling on future salary reduction for staff, down from the originally proposed 18 per cent. The new salary plan will be discussed at this month's council meeting. Dr To said staff were actually vulnerable to higher cuts than 10 per cent because they faced the additional 3 per cent pay cut imposed on the civil service and proposed cuts in pensions. 'The university hired a consultancy company to compare our salaries with market rates, but up to this moment, we do not know which company it was and how they came to their conclusions,' he said. Meanwhile, on June 21 legislators will discuss the issue of university staff remuneration following the government's decision last year allowing university salaries to be de-linked from the civil service.