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LCSD hopes to maintain dialogue with lifeguards

The Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Anissa Wong, today (July 18) appealed to the Hong Kong and Kowloon Life Guards' Union to act out for concern for swimmers' safety and continue talks on conditions of service with the management of the department.

Ms Wong said the Leisure and Cultural Services Department had explained in detail to the lifeguards union the principles behind the review of temporary contract lifeguard's salaries and manpower deployment, and would maintain communication with them.

The department has received notification of the lifeguards' industrial action and has contingency plans to maintain lifeguard service at public swimming pools and beaches as far as possible with assistance from voluntary lifeguards from the Hong Kong Life Saving Society.

"However, for the sake of swimmers' safety, we may have to close some facilities if there are not enough lifeguards on duty," Ms Wong said.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused and would like the public to listen to latest announcements about the opening of swimming pools tomorrow (July 18) morning," she added.

The industrial action resulted from some lifeguards' misunderstanding of a trial scheme this year to raise the salary of temporary contract lifeguard posts at more remote beaches to $10,000.

Ms Wong noted: "Because of relatively long traveling time and high expenses, recruitment of lifeguards for those beaches, located in the Outlying Islands, Sai Kung and Tuen Mun, had been difficult.

"In determining the size of the lifeguard establishment, we have taken into consideration the views of the Hong Kong Life Saving Society and overseas experts, practices of overseas countries and regions and the recommendations of the Audit Commission and the LegCo Public Accounts Committee."

Ms Wong emphasised that the department had always attached utmost importance to swimmers' safety and its lifeguard service is up to safety standards.

She thanked the lifeguards who would perform their duties tomorrow and the voluntary lifeguards from the Hong Kong Life Saving Society.

Members of the public may call the Government Hotline at 1823 after 7am tomorrow to enquire about the opening of swimming pools.

Ends/Saturday, July 17, 2004
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