A lifeguard union apologized to angry swimmers after several of its members took "sick leave," forcing the closure of the public swimming pool complex in Victoria Park.
Alex Kwok Siu-kit, head of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Lifeguards' Union, said members had to carry out the action after the Leisure and Cultural Services Department ignored their demand to increase manpower.
"Our union has to apologize to affected swimmers as our calls to increase manpower were aimed at ensuring the safety of Hongkongers, the elderly and children in public swimming pools and beaches," Kwok said at a phone-in program yesterday.
"We hope that citizens can understand our move."
The runup to the action, Kwok said, saw the union demanding the department increase the number of lifeguards at the Victoria Park pool complex from 30 to 36.
A department spokesman said last night a consensus was reached at an earlier meeting on staffing, and that the preferences of lifeguards would be taken into consideration when working out the roster from next month.
On staffing requirements, the department explained to the union's representatives the justifications for the provision of lifeguards at the Victoria Park swimming pools.
"Taking the main pool of the new Victoria Park swimming pool as an example, the current provision of five lifeguards in a shift should fully meet the requirements for daily operation," the spokesman said.
Kwok said there are generally four lifeguards at each main pool, and hoped this could be increased to six during peak hours.
On Monday, the public swimming pool in Victoria Park was forced to close for several hours when eight of the pool's 11 lifeguards took sick leave.
The closure left scores of swimmers fuming, with the pool only reopening in the afternoon when a sufficient number of lifeguards reported for duty.