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Outsourcing LCSD new sports centre management work no existing staff affected

Outsourcing the management work of new facilities is a prevailing Government policy and the implementation of the policy at the soon-to-be-completed Leisure and Cultural Services Department's (LCSD) Tai Kok Tsui Sports Centre will not affect the existing staff.

The above was stated by an LCSD spokesman in response to today's (July 10) petition by some LCSD lifeguards representing the Hong Kong and Kowloon Life Guards' Union to the Chief Executive against outsourcing the management work at Tai Kok Tsui Sports Centre.

Giving the background of the outsourcing arrangements and the underlying considerations, the spokesman said, "Due to the freeze in the civil service establishment, the Department is unable to create new posts for newly-completed facilities.

"In order to continue to provide quality services and facilities to members of the public, the Department has to outsource the management work of new facilities to contractors."

To address their concerns, letters have been sent to LCSD staff of all ranks and grades, detailing the outsourcing arrangements of the soon-to-be-completed Tai Kok Tsui Sports Centre and its swimming pool and reassuring the existing staff members that they will not be affected in the process.

Also, the Department is willing to hold discussions at any time with the union over issues of their concerns.

"At present, the management work of 10 sports centres of the LCSD has been contracted out and such arrangements have not affected any existing staff members," the spokesman noted.

Tai Kok Tsui Sports Centre and its swimming pool will be opened to the public in late 2005. The Department has to outsource its management work because no new posts can be created for the centre.

The Department has pledged that such arrangements will not affect any existing staff members, including no redundancy of permanent establishment and the unchanged employment of whole year contract staff.

The spokesman continued: "To ensure the quality of services provided by the contractor, in addition to stipulating the various services to be offered and the required standards in the contract entered into with the contractor (the number of lifeguards employed and their qualification requirements will have the same standard as that of all other LCSD's swimming pools), the LCSD will conduct regular visits to the venue and mount surprise checks so as to ensure that the contractor will fully comply with the contract terms.

"The Department has set up a standing committee chaired by the Deputy Director (Leisure Services) that meets regularly with district representatives so as to strengthen communication, map out effective management measures and monitor the standards of quality services provided by the contractors.

"Meanwhile, public views will be very significant to the LCSD for operating a more effective monitoring mechanism.

"Members of the public are therefore encouraged to voice their opinions either by submitting comments to the collection boxes at respective venues or in written forms, calling LCSD's hotline or attending the customers liaison groups meetings.

"The Department will then be able to take prompt actions to further upgrade the services."

The LCSD has been keeping a close watch on the quality of outsourced service provided by the contractors. On the list of the 10 outsourced facilities is Island East Sports Centre and its swimming pool whose facilities are quite similar to those of Tai Kok Tsui Sports Centre and its swimming pool.

Records showed that the overall performance of the contractor of the outsourced Island East Sports Centre in the past four years has been satisfactory.

A survey conducted between February and March this year by an independent consultancy firm engaged by the LCSD showed that some 90 per cent of the respondents ranked the overall standards of service provided at the sports centre as 'satisfactory'.

Scheduled to be opened to the public late this year, Tai Kok Tsui Sports Centre comprises a multi-purpose arena, an indoor climbing wall, three multi-purpose activity rooms, a gymnastics room, a children playroom, an indoor swimming pool and a training pool, thus providing a wide range of recreation and sports facilities for residents of the district.

"The Department believes that the outsourced Tai Kok Tsui Sports Centre and swimming pool will continue to offer quality recreation and sports services for the public," the spokesman said.

"We need to serve the public hand-in-hand with the staff members, and the Department has all along been active, sincere and open in holding discussions with its staff on their needs and suggestions," he stressed.

Ends/Sunday, July 10, 2005
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