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LCSD praises lifeguards for standing fast to their posts

The Acting Director of Leisure and Cultural Services (LCSD), Mr Alan Siu, praised the on-duty lifeguards for standing fast to their posts after he and LCSD senior officers visited some swimming pools today (July 18).

Mr Siu also expressed his gratitude to the Hong Kong Life Saving Society and the Auxiliary Medical Services for their assistance in enabling services at most of the department's swimming pools and beaches when a group of lifeguards took leave en masse today.

Today, 34 swimming pools, 32 beaches and four water sports centres were opened to the public, with only Sham Shui Po Park Swimming Pool and Yuen Long Swimming Pool temporarily closed for the whole day.

In the morning swimming session, 853 lifeguards were required and 539 LCSD lifeguards reported duty. The department deployed 348 honorary lifeguards and members of the Auxiliary Medical Services (AMS).

The afternoon required 888 lifeguards while 517 LCSD lifeguards plus 329 honorary lifeguards and AMS members were on duty.

Mr Siu apologised for any inconvenience caused by the closures of two swimming pools and the general public being deprived of the right to use all the aquatic venues of the department because of the industrial action by some lifeguards.

He reiterated: "With the aim to serving the general public and to ensure swimmers' safety, we sincerely hope to meet with the union and to resolve problems through discussions."

Mr Alan Siu pointed out that the department implemented a trial scheme this year to raise the salary of temporary contract lifeguard posts at remote beaches to $10,000 so as to ease the difficulty of recruitment in those beaches. Today's industrial action resulted from some lifeguards' misunderstanding of the scheme.

Mr Siu said: "As a matter of fact, we have encountered difficulties in the recruitment of lifeguards for beaches located in Outlying Islands, Sai Kung and Tuen Mun due to relatively long traveling time and high expenses."

He noted that the temporary contract lifeguards in other areas could apply to be posted to those beaches.

In terms of the manpower establishment of lifeguards, Mr Siu explained that the department had taken into consideration the views of the Hong Kong Life Saving Society, practices of overseas countries and regions, the recommendations of the Audit Commission and the LegCo Public Accounts Committee and invited overseas experts to pay site visits to give recommendations to the department also.

"Based on the maximum actual usage instead of maximum capacity of swimming pools, we derive the manpower establishment. There is room for adjustment of the number of lifeguards without affecting the safety standard," he added.

He also emphasised that all recruited lifeguards met the requirements set by the International Rescue Society and the lifeguard service was up to safety standard.

Ends/Sunday, July 18, 2004
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