Bylaw 'forces work in typhoons' Kowloon Motor Bus drivers have threatened to take industrial action if the Transport Department refuses to review what they call an outdated guideline that forces them to stay on the road during typhoons. More than 20 KMB drivers were on their way back to the depot when the Observatory hoisted the No 9 typhoon signal on August 22, the Motor Transport Workers General Union said, and that did not include the trip home once the drivers had returned to the depot. The union's deputy director for KMB, Chung Kin-wah, said either the department should ban bus services immediately after the No 8 signal was hoisted or the company should offer special work allowances during such times. 'I know we have a duty to serve the public, but we are flesh and blood as well. I think we deserve extra to serve the public in dangerous work environments,' he said. According to a guideline issued by the department to all public transport operators, they should maintain services for no less than two hours after the No 8 signal is hoisted. But as some long-distance routes take nearly three hours to complete for a return trip - and the last bus on some routes may depart almost two hours after the No 8 signal is hoisted - that means some drivers could be working five hours in severe storms. 'Either the Transport Department should shorten the two-hour rule, or the employer should pay us extra for the dangerous nature of the works,' Mr Chung said. 'The drivers are angry. We don't rule out vigorous action if our demand is not answered.' He said the union would poll the opinions of the 8,000 KMB drivers in the coming week before deciding on the next move. However, the same union's New World First Bus director, Chu Pin-din, said they had no problem working in extreme weather. 'It's not like we have to work through the entire typhoon, but just to work long enough to bring our passengers home. We have no problems with that.' Citybus and New World First Bus offer their drivers double pay by the hour plus a special allowance of up to HK$300 when there is a tropical rainstorm. KMB said they offered no such allowances, but stressed that the remuneration package should be viewed as a whole. A spokeswoman for the firm added that, as a public utility, KMB had a duty to provide necessary services to the public, and all drivers had insurance coverage. Mr Chung and other members of the union met department officials yesterday to convey their opinions. The department said the two-hour rule was a long-standing practice aimed at getting the public to safety at times of extreme weather, but individual operators should exercise their judgment as to when services should be halted.