About a thousand lifeguards will swim across Victoria Harbour in August to protest against government policies which they say are putting lives at risk. The lifeguards' union said the cutting of salaries and staff was undermining their performance. 'We need people to pay attention to this issue,' said Kwok Siu-kit, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong & Kowloon Lifeguard Union. Pressure must be put on the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, he said. Last October, the department cut lifeguards' salaries from $11,115 to $8,300 a month. Mr Kwok said that because regular posts around each pool had been cut by almost a third, lifeguards were forced to work eight hours straight without any breaks. 'We will swim across Victoria Harbour in protest at [the government's] careless regard to public safety,' he said. An aquatic safety expert said the government was overworking its pool staff and not meeting international standards. 'Lifeguards should work 90-minute shifts,' said Kong Man-lung, who has an aquatic safety consultant's licence and has acted as a volunteer consultant for 20 years. 'A lifeguard's performance at his or her job is undoubtedly affected by these decisions.' He said he had found nine lifeguards supervising a public pool in Chai Wan when there should have been 15. 'Sometimes at waterslides, lifeguards are replaced by untrained security guards,' he said. 'If manpower is decreased, the obvious consequence is that safety standards will go down as well.' Mr Kwok said the government was short of 700 lifeguards. But a department spokesman said the current level of 1,580 lifeguards was enough. 'A lifeguard only has to save people once in a while, the rest of the time there's not much pressure,' he said.