Hotel layoffs add to job fears

Local | Michael Shum 3 Apr 2020

The InterContinental Hong Kong will lay off all of its 750 staff to make way for its biggest renovation in 30 years scheduled for April 20 and will reopen as Regent Hong Kong in 2022.

Alex Tsui Hau-lai, chairman of the Hong Kong Hotel Employees Union, said InterContinental held a town hall meeting for all employees yesterday to announce the decision.

The hotel said it will try to switch staff over to other hotels under the brand, and staff would get priority to rejoin after the reopening.

One employee said the last working day for all staff will be May 1 and that compensation will be based on seniority.

Those who have worked for the hotel for less than five years will get one month's salary, while those who have worked for 15 years or more will get four months' salary.

"We have not received any calls for assistance yet, as I think they are all still in shock and have no idea what to do right now," Tsui said.

The luxury hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui said yesterday: "The transformation will span all guest rooms and suites including bathrooms, all public areas, restaurants and event venues, as well as a refresh of the building facade with a contemporary new look."

Yan Toh Heen, its one Michelin star Cantonese restaurant, will remain open throughout the renovation and will be accessible via the adjoining K11 Musea.

The renovation and renaming plans were first announced in October 2018.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has proposed an 80 percent wage subsidy for employees who are asked to take no-pay leave as well as the same percentage of normal income for the self-employed, with the cap set at HK$16,000.

Its lawmaker, Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, said: "Most of the measures in the first batch of the anti-epidemic fund help employers instead of workers. There should be more effort to directly help people who are going out of work, including the self-employed."

Chairman Steven Kwok Wing-kin said: "Unemployment is becoming more of a problem, and the relief package the government rolled out previously is inadequate."

"As the government stepped up containment efforts, restaurants and entertainment venues take an even harder hit. The government cannot shy away from its responsibility," Kwok added.

Carol Ng Man-yee, head of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, also suggested the government look at measures adopted by other countries and provide sick-leave subsidies to employees under quarantine or confirmed with the virus.

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