One in three rank-and-file Hospital Authority staff have been bullied at work, survey shows

Some 80 per cent of respondents said they would not seek help from the human resources department because they felt it was ‘useless’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 September, 2017, 8:12pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 September, 2017, 8:12pm

One in three of the Hospital Authority’s rank-and-file staff have experienced some form of workplace bullying, with most of them saying they would not seek help from human resources as they do not think it would help, a union survey has found.

The Hospital Authority Employees General Union polled 202 authority staff members, such as cleaners, office workers and ward support staff from July to August. The survey found that 30 per cent have experienced bullying by their superiors.

It also found that 80 per cent of respondents would not seek help from the human resources department because they felt it was “useless”. Some 70 per cent said they wanted union representatives to be with them if they choose to complain.

While the survey did not ask for examples of bullying, the union said it has seen cases of verbal abuse and unreasonable treatment of staff.

“Some of the staff were crying when they came and sought help from the union. You could tell that they have been bullied for so long,” said the union’s secretary Wan Sui-kei, a hospital maintenance worker.

In a case last year, Wan said a pregnant cleaner was often asked by her superior to mop the wet floors at the hospital entrance on rainy days. The woman resorted to asking her husband to talk to her superior.

“They had a meeting to talk about the matter. But the superior has actually quietly called the police and complained that the husband was harassing him,” Wan said.

Discrimination rife at work in Hong Kong, Equal Opportunities Commission finds in study

Wan said in many cases, the superiors bully their staff just to show that they are the boss.

“In the 1980s, there were some hospital jobs that people just showed no interest in doing. Some people started as rank-and-file staff themselves and rose through the ranks over the years. Now that they are the boss, they like to bully their staff to show that they are the men in charge,” Wan added.

The survey also found that 60 per cent of respondents did not know they could lodge appeals against their supervisors’ work assessments of them if they disagree with the outcome. They were just never told by their supervisors and the human resources department that such an appeal mechanism existed.

University of Hong Kong investigates second bullying case after video went viral

Organising secretary Ng Koon-kwan, from the Confederation of Trade Unions, of which the Hospital Authority union is under, said it was important for staff to be briefed on the mechanism because a bad assessment could affect their chance of promotion or whether their contracts would be renewed.

The authority replied that it takes staff complaints seriously and has provided channels for them to lodge complaints. The authority also said it takes staff performance seriously and has in place a set of objective criteria to assess staff performance.

The authority will continue to enhance communication with its staff, it said in a statement.