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LCQ9: Outsourcing of cleansing and security services in schools

    Following is a question by the Hon Leung Kwok-hung and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (December 5):


     A number of cleansing workers of schools in the New Territories recently complained to me that some subsidised schools had outsourced their cleansing and security services, but the wages of the cleansing workers and security guards employed by the outsourced service contractors concerned were lower than those of the cleansing workers and security guards previously employed by the schools, and the wages received by some of those workers were even lower than the rates stipulated under the Wage Protection Movement. In addition, the complainants pointed out that some of the above contractors had wrongfully deducted their employees' wages and hence breached the labour legislation. Yet, the schools concerned had not monitored such contractors. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the current respective numbers of government and subsidised primary and secondary schools which have outsourced the cleansing and security services and those which employ their own staff to provide such services directly, as well as the respective wage rates of the cleansing workers and security guards employed by the schools concerned and the relevant contractors, broken down by the 18 District Council districts;

(b) whether it had received in the past three years any cases in which such workers complained about wrongful deduction of wages and hence breach of the labour legislation by their employers (the schools or the outsourced service contractors); and

(c) how it will monitor the above outsourced service contracts which are awarded by government and subsidised schools to ensure that the wages of the employees of the contractors concerned will not be lower than the relevant average market rates published in the Census and Statistics Department's Quarterly Report of Wages and Payroll Statistics?


Madam President,

(a) Government and aided schools can employ janitors directly or outsource the cleansing and security services to contractors at different times on the basis of operational needs, the nature of the work concerned and the specific circumstances in question. The Education Bureau does not have the information concerning the hiring of janitors or service contractors by government and aided schools.

(b) For the period from 2005 to October 2007, the Labour Department had received two complaints regarding suspected violation of wage deduction restrictions under the Employment Ordinance by security service contractors of schools. The Labour Department has completed the investigation of one of the cases and issued a warning letter to the service contractor concerned. The other case is still being investigated by the Department. The Education Bureau has not received any complaints from janitors/cleansing workers and security guards against schools or outsourced service contractors on suspected wage deduction in breach of the Employment Ordinance.

(c) The Education Bureau issues Circular Memorandum to schools every year urging them to follow the measures laid down by the Government on service contracts which involve the employment of mainly non-skilled workers. These include the provision that a tender offer shall not be considered if the monthly wages offered to non-skilled workers by the tenderer are less than the average monthly wages for the relevant industry/occupation as indicated in the latest Quarterly Report of Wages and Payroll Statistics of the Census and Statistics Department. Also, the tenderer is required to submit a declaration stating that there has not been any conviction record against him under the Employment Ordinance and other related ordinances for the five-year period immediately preceding the close of the tender, or that he has not been given three or more demerit points under the demerit point system over a rolling period of three years for breaching contractual obligations in respect of wages. From time to time, the Education Bureau also reminds schools to adopt practises of a good employer and urges them to observe the contracts they enter into with their employees. School employees aggrieved by the terms of the employment contract may lodge their complaints with the Regional Education Offices of the Education Bureau, which will follow up their cases accordingly.

Ends/Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Issued at HKT 15:06


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