The Hong Kong Federation of Civil Service Unions said on Friday that it had received reports about some government clerical staff being pressured into joining efforts to quarantine people who have been to the coronavirus-ravaged mainland.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung had earlier appealed for serving and retired government workers to volunteer for a series of "urgent tasks", including making sure those put into quarantine camps don't try to leave, and carrying out spot checks on those put under home quarantine.
The federation’s chief executive, Leung Chau-ting, said some clerks at the health and social welfare departments had been strong-armed by more senior staff into taking part.
He said the clerks expressed fears that they would be infected when carrying out their new duties.
Leung said it’s understandable that the government needs volunteers during this critical period, but the authorities must provide adequate protective gear to staff who may come into contact with suspected coronavirus patients.
Meanwhile, the Union for New Civil Servants urged staff to notify it if they face any unfair treatment from their bosses.
The union said it would meet next Wednesday to discuss the matter, and it could not rule out industrial action to protect civil servants if necessary.
But Liberal Party chairman Tommy Cheung, who is also an executive councillor, welcomed the plan to recruit retired civil servants to help deal with the virus outbreak.
“I think a lot of civil servants that are retired, including health practitioners, be they doctors and nurses, are willing to help,” he said.
“I don’t think we are short of equipment. If you are talking about medical protective suits, we’re sourcing them from all over the world.”
Govt clerks forced to join quarantine teams: unions
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