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Measures to minimise lifeguard strike effect on swimmers

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) projects that four of its swimming pools may have to be completely closed and there may not be lifeguard services at 10 beaches tomorrow (August 6) because of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Life Guards' Union industrial action.

At a meet-the-media session today (August 5), the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Anissa Wong, said that the LCSD would deploy qualified temporary lifeguards and honorary lifeguards, together with members of the Auxiliary Medical Service and LCSD lifeguards who will stand fast to their posts to man swimming pools and beaches so that public service would not be adversely affected by the industrial action.

The swimming pools which may be closed tomorrow are Sham Shui Po Park Swimming Pools, Hammer Hill Road Swimming Pool, Jockey Club Yan Oi Tong Swimming Pool and Kwai Tsing Swimming Pool. Red flags showing the suspension of lifeguard services may be hoisted in Kadoorie Beach, Old Cafeteria Beach, New Cafeteria Beach, Golden Beach, Trio Beach, Kiu Tsui Beach, Hap Mun Bay Beach, Silverstrand Beach, Clear Water Bay First Beach and Clear Water Bay Second Beach.

Ms Wong said, "To ensure swimmers' safety, we shall only open swimming pools and beaches with sufficient qualified lifeguards. If there are not enough lifeguards on duty because of the industrial action, some aquatic facilities may have to be closed temporarily. We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

The LCSD will inform the public through TV and radio announcements about the opening of the aquatic facilities as early as possible tomorrow morning.

Members of the public can also use the government hotline 1823 or visit the LCSD homepage hk to check opening details.

Hoping that the union would, same as the department, attach utmost importance to serving the community and ensuring swimmers' safety, Ms Wong said the LCSD had actively contacted the union several times with a view to resolving the differences with the union through constructive and rational dialogues.

"In fact, the department has sincerely invited the union to nominate representatives to join two working groups respectively to review the lifeguard establishment and to study the mechanism for working out the salary level of temporary contract lifeguards. We hope that concrete proposals could be made with the aim to further upgrading our service to the public," she said.

She pointed out that the two working groups should take a thorough and comprehensive work approach and should not be hurried by a rigid deadline of just two to three weeks.

Ms Wong added that inviting representation of the Hong Kong Life Saving Society to the working group on lifeguard manpower could solicit objective and professional views.

The department respected the right of the union to fight for its interests, she said. However, the LCSD, as a government department, should use resources wisely and be accountable to the public when spending the public money.

She said: "The most important duty of a government employee is to stand fast to one's post so as to serve the public and take good care of public interests. If our employees fail to do so and jeopardise public interests, the department will then need to handle the cases in a fair and just way in accordance with the prevailing civil service regulations and employment contracts."

Ends/Thursday, August 5, 2004
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