Food and hygiene chief sounds warning over future deals Future contractors with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department were warned yesterday their contracts could be terminated if they exploited workers. Food and Environmental Hygiene Director Gregory Leung Wing-lup said on Commercial Radio that the department was seeking legal advice to include a special condition in future deals that would allow it to prematurely terminate contracts with companies found guilty of breaking labour laws. The comment came after a magistrate this month criticised the city's labour laws as outdated and fined department contractor Wai Hong Cleaning & Pest Control more than $230,000 for sacking three workers who took part in union activities and denying them rest days. Despite the conviction, Mr Leung admitted yesterday that the department could not legally terminate the company's 24 service contracts, worth $400 million. The last contract will expire in 2009. The director called on workers who were forced to pay kickbacks to their employers to report them to the department or the police. '[A] kickback involves fraud. However, there may be some grey areas, such as if they are asked to pay for their own uniforms or job training,' he said. Mr Leung said the department carried out regular surveys of 10 per cent of sub-contractors' workers to determine whether they were underpaid. An angry caller blasted the department for failing to take sufficient action to protect workers. 'I understand the department's practice. You just don't want to terminate the contracts because it would be time-consuming and involve additional administration work to put out a new tender,' the caller said. He claimed he was hired to carry out government services, but that his employer had faked his signature to fabricate pay and holiday records. He said he had reported the case to police, but that the department failed to provide information for the police to carry out an investigation. Wai Hong Cleaning & Pest Control pleaded guilty to 12 charges of not granting rest days to three women, who worked as street cleaners in Tsuen Wan. They were dismissed from their jobs at the end of last year. The 15 charges resulted in fines totalling $234,000. The department said it had suspended Wai Hong from bidding for contracts for 12 months.