200 contractors vow to blacklist unscrupulous operators More than 200 cleaning contractors have formed a group in an effort to scrub up their image, which they say has been tarnished by 'unscrupulous employers' exploiting workers. The Cleaning Contractors Alliance, launched yesterday, will use a demerit system under which members may be blacklisted if they are convicted of labour breaches or have too many complaints lodged against them. But the group was immediately rubbished by a cleaners' union that said at least two members had been involved in labour breaches and allegations. Alliance convenor Catherine Yan Sui-han said the companies were 'bombarded every day by loads of negative coverage accusing us of exploiting our workers'. 'But in recent years many of us have had to tender contracts at a deficit just to stay in the business, while some have been exploited by unscrupulous workers. How much does the public actually understand?' she said. The contractors' move follows a spate of cases in which cleaners were denied rest days, benefits and salaries, resulting in several prosecutions. Under the demerit system, members losing 15 points within two years will be struck off the list. Potential clients, including the government, will be warned about them and urged not to hire them. The Labour Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department welcomed the move. But the Cleaning Service Industry Workers Union said the alliance was like a 'thief' crying out for help. 'A member of their alliance, Wai Hong Cleaning and Pest Control, has just been fined more than $230,000 for sacking three workers who took part in union activities. How can you ever trust them?' union spokesman Fung Kai-yuen asked. He also pointed to an Independent Commission Against Corruption case in which staff of pest control contractor Green Harbour Environmental Service are accused of blackmailing workers into accepting wages below the minimum in the contract and telling the government the full amount had been paid. A worker with Centuryan Pest Control Services, a subsidiary of Ms Yan's company, Centuryan Environmental Services, has been accused of helping the defendants in Green Harbour case make false transport claims. The case is continuing. Mr Fung also criticised the demerit system as being too lenient because it was difficult for a firm to lose 15 points within two years. Ms Yan said that in the case of Wai Hong, which was convicted last month, the company could have lost five to eight points. 'And if we receive up to three complaints against a certain company, we may also consider deducting two points from them,' she said.