16 May 2012
HKUST will contract out the recreational and sports facilities service under the Student Affairs Office (SAO) without extensive consultation with the students.
Front line contract staff has been informed that their contracts will not be renewed with effective from 30 June and will be transferred to the new appointed contractor instead of directly employed by the university authority. However, not only no concrete commitment on fully employing the whole existing staff team has been made, neither the salary, employment benefits nor any relating details have been mentioned. The recreational and sports facilities service team has no bargaining power nor being involved in the discussion process between the university authority and the contractor, while they are passively suppressed with no leverage in hand, which above all is only a total injustice action. The general contract-out services always fall on those who have the most ‘economic one’ among the bidders, which the cost saved is absolutely a reflection on the exfoliation from the employees. We strongly condemn the university authority of such irresponsible behavior as an unscrupulous employer, and we strongly oppose the contract-out of the student facilities and sports facilities services.
Frontline contract staff of the student facilities services and the sports facilities services, those who widely known as the staff wearing a yellow POLO shirt with the university badge, mainly work in university facilities management, including classroom bookings, assisting of material bookings, logistics and management, lockers rental and sports facilities management. They have been dedicated staff ever since and widely welcomed by the students. The whole staff team was informed on 8 May that their contracts will not be renewed upon contract completion day, and we have already had our first meeting with the university authority on 14 May.
We have learnt that the current Student Affairs Director Dr. Grace Au has suggested the contract-out of facilities and sports facilities services to the Vice President of Academic Affairs as early as 2008. In order to implement the plan, all the newly employed staff in the facilities and sports facilities services us under a annual-renewal contract employment system, with the existing permanent employed staff being shifted to the dormitory sector, so as to accomplish the outsourcing plan. Without extensive consultation with the students, the university authority started the bidding of the contract-out section early in March. The university authority will finalize the contract with the newly appointed contractor within 2 weeks. Immediate actions are urgently needed to be taken.
The university authority sugar-frost their action with enhancing of service quality in order to reduce operating cost by outsourcing the job and put the cut on the frontline staff. The authority said that there are terms in the contract added in to protect the rights and benefits of the staff yet they refused to disclose any details. However, according to this year’s survey from the Confederation of Trade Union, the school failed to make any effort to monitor the contractors, leading to a much worse situation with contractors exploiting the frontline staff. The average monthly salary of HKUST outsourced cleaners is HKD 6944 , which is the lowest among all Hong Kong tertiary institutions. Along with another survey on investigating the salary of the contracted out security guards  also shows that with the monthly salary the same as HKD 6944, is also the lowest in all tertiary institutions. With the core fact of exploitation of the frontline staff from the contractors, the senior management of the university heartlessly stays out from the business and claiming the university authority never exploit their employees. Studies have already shown that early as in 2003 the university authority has connivance with the exploitation of the cleaners from the contractors. With a lapse of nine years, the exploiting situation on the outsourced cleaners and security guides remains serious, which is obvious that the university authority does not supervise the operation of the contractors to the least on protecting the interests of the employees . The ridiculous rationale used by the university authority to introduce contractors so as to "enhance the quality of service" is the lack of work efficiency due to the "serious aging problem of the employees, and this can be dealt with in a “flexible” way by outsourcing. The reply from the school not only violates the "Employment Guidelines (elimination of age discrimination in employment)”, but also appears to be the total lack of responsibility to shoulder the job of taking care those who have been giving dedication to service the school by shifting the blame to the contractors.
The university authority has also repeatedly stressed that the outsourcing of campus services are the usual practices of major institutions, citing with ‘good’ examples that the HKUST has outsourced previously, such as security guards, cleaners, etc., arguing that the mode of outsourcing service works well in the school campus. Yet, “usual” practices never mean it is the RIGHT practices. Surveys and studies from different sources all show that the wages of HKUST outsourcing of services are the lowest among all Hong Kong tertiary institutions, which obviously state that what the university authority said about "working well" is nothing but a self-deception, and at the same time keep ignoring the exploitation of outsourced employees. With the numerous of knowledgeable and respected people being educated by the university, is this the use of our knowledge and power to exploit those who are already underprivileged? Staff under the outsourced employment has no chance to establish the sense of belonging to their working environment, their colleagues as well as their boss simply because they do not have a fixed working location. They are in the island in their workplace where their bargaining power are weakened along with the ability to fight for their rights and benefits.
In addition, while the "recreational services" and "sports facilities services” employees who have always played an important role in the affiliated events, the university authority has totally ignored the potential chaos during the transitional period along with the shortly to be implemented 334 curriculum. The transitional period also falls on the busy university timetable with affiliated associations holding O' CAMP or O' DAY, which will majorly affect students in organizing and the right to participate in such activities. With possession and custody of keys and student personal information data by the staff of recreational and sports facilities services, the university authority fails to address the concern and doubt of the students towards the contractors by not getting sufficient consultation from the students.
Being one of the leading education institutions in Hong Kong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology should also lead as the social role model in bearing social responsibility and concerns the interests of its employees in the campus. Instead, the university authority has chosen to leave the staff behind and blindly following the profit driven practices in the business world, completely ignoring the needs of the employees and basic principle as a tertiary education institute. We cannot keep our eyes blind and our ears shut on this while terrified by the university authority’s actions. With so much dedication to both the students and the campus from these frontline staff being left in such exploiting working environment, where is exactly the social responsibility that HKUST has put in?
- We urge:
- The university authority withdraw the negotiation with the contractor immediately;
- Renewing contracts with all existing workers and promise the maintaining of reasonable salary and employment benefits;
- Openly address all rationale on the contract-out plan, tender schedule, tender guidelines, mechanism on monitoring the contractors, and the concrete measures on protecting worker’s benefits;
- Ensuring that all workers will not be dealt with afterwards by both the university authority and the contractor;
- Review on current contract-out services, and extensive consultation from teaching staff and students, setting up of investigation groups and review on the treatment of HKUST outsourced staff in order to tackle the worker exploitation problem.
Fellow HKUST staff, students and those who concern about the contract-out issues, please stand up and support the HKUST staff if you believe that we all have the right of fighting against work exploitation, protection on labour right and the basic humanistic to be defended by the university authority. We should all stand up to voice out for justice and fight for the labour rights for the HKUST workers. The outsource of the recreational and sports facilities services sector today may only be just a start for the university authority to further extend the contract –out plan to other departments such as ITSC and the dormitories. The influence is not only to those employed by the university authority or the contractors, yet all those who study and work in the university may not be ever enjoy the services from those who have been dedicated to their work. We call on all workers, students and the community to actively participate in our joint-petition action, and the continuously concern the treatment of our HKUST workers. By doing those we can truly shows that HKUST care about our society and the needed one as well as bearing the social responsibility, as the true world-class university.
 Kaxton Siu (2006), "New Labour Protest Movements in Hong Kong: the experience of the Student-Worker Mutual Aid Campaign," in Samir Dasgupta and Ray Kiely (eds), Globalization and After, Sage: London.
For organizational signatory, please email us at cgop.hkust[at]gmail.com
科大外判關注組 HKUST Concern Group for Outsourcing Practices (聯絡人 Contact Person: Daeus 9524 3890)
團體聯署 Organizational Signatories:
香港科技大學學生會 HKUST Students' Union
香港科技大學學生會編輯委員會 Editorial Board, HKUSTSU
香港科技大學學生會冰川社三學生會 Glacier, HOUSE III Students' Association, HKUSTSU
香港科技大學學生會嶄越社四學生會 Vista, House IV Students' Association, HKUSTSU
香港人權監察 Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor
大學師生監察無良企業行動 Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior
香港物業管理及保安職工總會（職工盟屬會） HK BUILDINGS MANAGEMENT AND SECURITY WORKERS GENERAL UNION (AFFILIATE TO HKCTU)
清潔服務業職工會（職工盟屬會） Cleaning Service Industry Workers Union (AFFILIATE TO HKCTU)
香港教育學院教學人員協會 Academic Staff Association of The Hong Kong Institute of Education
左翼21 Left21香港科技大學學生會基督徒團契 Christian Fellowship, HKUSTSU
香港浸會大學教職員工會 The Hong Kong Baptist University Faculty And Staff Union
香港中文大學員工總會 The Chinese University Employees General Union
香港教育學院職員協會 Staff Association of The Hong Kong Institute of Education
大學及專上院校工會聯盟 The Confederation of Tertiary Institutes Staff Unions
職業訓練局教學人員協會 VTC Academic Staff Association
香港理工大學應用社會科學學系會 Applied Social Sciences Departmental Society (APSSDS)
香港職工會聯盟 Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
香港專上學生聯會(學聯) Hong Kong Federation of Students
香港婦女勞工協會 Hong Kong Women Workers' Association
清潔工人職工會 CLEANING WORKERS UNION
香港理工大學香港專上學院社會關注組 Social Concern Group HKCC
全球化監察 Globalization Monitor
香港社會工作學生聯會 (社工學聯) Hong Kong Federation of Social Work Students
港專社工系系會 Society of Social Work Students of Hong Kong College of Technology