Hospital Authority warns striking staff to leave HQ - RTHK
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Hospital Authority warns striking staff to leave HQ

2020-02-07 HKT 15:44
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  • Hospital Authority warns striking staff to leave HQ
  • A strike staff member fainted during lunchtime during the sit-in. Photo: RTHK
    A strike staff member fainted during lunchtime during the sit-in. Photo: RTHK
The Hospital Authority (HA) on Friday warned striking hospital staff members occupying multiple floors of its headquarters to leave as soon as possible, saying they were taking part in an unauthorised gathering.

It was the second statement the HA issued in a span of an hour, and took on a harsher tone.

“As an unauthorised gathering is taking place on multiple floors of the Hospital Authority Building, operations at Hospital Authority headquarters have been seriously affected”, the statement said.

“The HA urges all staff working in the building to decide – depending on whether it’s safe – to continue staying inside the building; all those headed to the HA Building should cancel their journeys.”

The statement did not say whether the authority will try to eject the healthcare workers.

Referring to the strike organisers, the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA), the authority said the ‘concerned organisation’ had disregarded the safety of their colleagues by forcing their way onto multiple floors of the building, and said it ‘regrets’ the serious disruption the action has caused.

While a previous statement said the authority has all along been sincere in meeting with the group in hopes of a concrete and constructive dialogue, there was no offer of any meeting in the later statement.

Hundreds of striking staff had turned up at HA headquarters on Argyle Street at around 10am, in a show of support for plans to extend a five-day strike beyond Friday, as union members cast votes online on whether to continue their industrial action.

They’re demanding the government to completely seal off the border to protect the city from the coronavirus outbreak; for the Hospital Authority to provide adequate protective equipment for staff, and to promise not to seek retribution against those who taking part in the strike.

The HAEA blamed management for escalating the row.

“It is beyond outrageous for our management to shut their staff outside of their office doors, while remaining blind and deaf to our beseeching cries”, the alliance said in a statement.

“We find it hard to believe that this cruelty is the management initiative of the HA towards their employees.”

The alliance said one colleague had fainted during the lunch hour after waiting for more than three hours for an audience with executives.

“While our senior management enjoyed their lunch, their staff fell down due to low blood sugar. The irony is heart-wrenchingly painful”, the statement said.

Thousands of frontline doctors, nurses and aides have joined the strike, which the authority says has seriously affected patient services.