Union to step up strike action after meeting fails - RTHK
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Union to step up strike action after meeting fails

2020-02-03 HKT 19:00
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  • Union to step up strike action after meeting fails
As many as 9,000 public healthcare workers are set to join a strike on Tuesday, as a union decided to escalate their industrial action to try to press for a complete border shutdown to protect Hong Kong from the growing Wuhan virus outbreak.

The Hospital Authority (HA) said around 2,700 staff, including 370 doctors and 900 nurses, took part in Monday’s strike, affecting services, and forcing a number of surgeries to be postponed.

This included scheduled operations for cancer patients, and angioplasties.

Asked how services would be affected on Tuesday, when around 6,000 more medics are expected to join the strike, HA Chief Executive Tony Ko admitted “We are not very sure what will happen because the information we have now is still very limited.”

But he said the authority will try to prioritise key services and focus what manpower they have on dealing with emergencies, inpatients, and other essential services.

“We’ll try to arrange colleagues from different departments to cover each other so that hopefully, we can minimise the impact on services, and thus the potential impact to patient services”, he said.

Talks between Ko and a packed room of disgruntled staff members quickly broke down on Monday evening after he rejected their demands to issue a public statement from urging the government to impose a full border shutdown; and a promise for management not to seek retribution against any staff members who joined the strike.

Ko again stressed that he agreed that minimising the flow of people across the border was needed to help prevent a community outbreak.

But loud boos echoed through the lecture theatre at HA headquarters where the public meeting was held, when Ko said he wasn’t a border control expert, and cannot say what the best measures would be.

He also said it's unfair for staff to give him an ultimatum to make such a simplistic demand.

On potential reprisals, he said the authority will comply with guidelines in matters of staff discipline.

That prompted Winnie Yu, chairperson of the HA Employees Alliance, which organised the strike, to announce to the crowd that the strike will proceed to phase two as planned.

“We all think that this is the responsibility of the Hong Kong government and the Hospital Authority management… They have to do something as soon as possible – to act fast to [close down] the border to prevent a community outbreak of Wuhan pneumonia in Hong Kong, but they just didn’t do [their jobs]”, Yu said.

The alliance also says it’s heard that other sectors are interested in perhaps joining in the strike, and said there’s no point in holding any more talks with HA management unless the Chief Executive Carrie Lam herself shows up.

Last updated: 2020-02-03 HKT 23:10