Block fails for angry bus drivers

Top News | Maisy Mok and Michael Shum 26 Feb 2021

An attempt by bus drivers to block the bus terminal next to Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier in protest against KMB reducing working hours for contract workers failed after police intervention.

At least three members from the Motor Transport Workers General Union, wearing orange polo shirts, attempted to block the Star Ferry Bus Terminus at about 5pm yesterday.

The unionists wanted to block the roads leading to the bus terminal, but gave up and returned to the sidewalk after being warned by police that they could be arrested.

Bus services were not affected.

Lai Siu-chung, deputy director of the union's KMB branch, said the protest was due to KMB's decision to reduce the working hours of bus drivers without consulting the union.

Starting from next Monday, Lai said KMB requested previously retired bus drivers under an annually renewed contract to work only a half-shift for six hours a day.

The monthly income of more than 1,000 bus drivers will be reduced from HK$18,000 to HK$12,000.

Lai said the union and the KMB's representatives had negotiated yesterday morning but failed, so they decided to protest.

"Our action today is to tell the management to think clearly," Lai said. "We have told them that the March 1 order should be put on hold for 14 days so the union can collect all member's opinions but they refused."

Although the union was unable to block the terminus, Lai disagreed that their protest was a failure. He said the union will continue to send questionnaires to collect bus drivers' opinions.

"We do not rule out that there will be more vigorous action, such as working to rule or not look after the bus' cash box," Lai said.

In response, KMB said the changes do not affect existing contract arrangements.

A KMB spokesman said that they discussed with a group of retired bus drivers whose contracts are about to end on the shift arrangements under their new contract.

"Most of the retiring employees have agreed or are actively considering the relevant arrangement," the spokesman added.

The spokesman said that under its regular mechanism, KMB will determine whether to hire retired bus drivers - 60 years old or above - on a yearly contract through a careful assessment of their physical condition and driving performance, as well as the company's passenger volume and operational needs.

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