6th February 2023 – (Hong Kong) A dispute broke out between the outsourced management company and employees at the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre recently. The Hong Kong government revoked the isolation order arrangements for confirmed COVID-19 cases from 30th January and all the community isolation facilities will operate until the 28th of this month.
Some employees said that the management company required a large number of outsourced security guards and cleaners to work only until the 12th of this month on the grounds of the Department of Health’s request to reduce the manpower. The move has caused dissatisfaction among employees.
Several employees claimed that they were induced to sign a voluntary resignation document, and worried that they would not be able to receive severance pay and contract gratuity. They are planning industrial actions and around 100 affected employees have filed reports at Labour Department in Tsuen Wan. Some employees estimated that half of the 500 security guards and cleaners are facing layoffs.
The Labour Department, the Department of Health and China Overseas Property Services Limited i.e. the management company which employs employees have yet to respond to the incident.
The Penny’s Bay Community Isolation Facility currently has three main types of contract staff, including security guards and cleaners. The company responsible for contracting services is China Overseas Property Services Limited while housekeeping assistants are directly hired by the Security Bureau. The quarantine centre is divided into 11 areas. Since the epidemic eased, some areas have been turned into standby status, and outsourced contractor has since attempted to reduce manpower.
Some cleaners pointed out that although the quarantine order has been revoked, there are still more than 100 confirmed cases who voluntarily moved into the area they are in charge of. However, it was alleged that the person in charge has recently summoned employees and stated that they need to be dismissed earlier, and even coerced the them to sign a consent form to express their voluntary resignation. An employee pointed out that there are still more than 1,000 security guards and cleaners on duty, and it is estimated that half of them will be affected. He suspected that there was also a problem with the MPF contributions. Some employees had checked with MPF about the failure to pay contributions by the employer. He also pointed out that the Department of Health has already paid China Overseas Property Services Limited an employee allowance of HK$5,000 per person in February. If he can only work until the 12th February, it is unknown whether he can still get the full amount.