ATV is heartless, a Trade Union chief said yesterday, because it worries more about developing its business than paying its staff.
Speaking to Young Post today, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union official Mung Siu-tat said that ATV, which has not paid its staff for December or January, did not care about the hardships workers might be suffering. “ATV’s new investor Si Rongbin didn’t show up at the meetings on Wednesday, when he was meant to settle unpaid wages,” Mung said. “His representative, Jan He, told staff they would have to wait for another month for their money as it was not the company’s most pressing issue.
“I don’t think ATV takes any responsibility for protecting its staff’s rights. Has the management showed any mercy to their staff who have worked hard for the broadcaster but ended up with nothing?” he says.
An ATV employee reported that Si had criticised ATV’s news department for reporting the story. The employee was furious, saying Si was interfering in editorial policy.
Only staff who made less than HK$15,000 a month received their December pay, and no staff have been paid for January yet.
Later, on Wednesday, ATV’s chief operations officer Charles Ma Hay met staff to say he would do his best to ensure ATV staff were paid. An ATV spokesman told Young Post today that Ma wanted to have his staff fully paid tomorrow.
Since Hong Kong’s Executive Council decided not to renew ATV’s free-to-air licence, which was set to expire on November 30, on April 1 last year, the station has been under fire since then. The reason their licence wasn’t renewed was because ATV had been given ample time to submit a sustainable business plan to carry on, but had failed to deliver. The station will be allowed to operate until April 1, 2016, because the government has to give one year notice.
ATV have intermittently failed to pay wages to its employees since June 2014.
As of Monday, ATV suspended its morning and noon newscasts.
Mung said the station’s staff can use the Employment Ordinance 10A to terminate their contract with their employer. According to the ordinance, if any wages are not paid within one month, the contract shall be deemed to be terminated by the employer and so the employee does not need to pay in lieu of notice. The employer is responsible for the payment in lieu of notice, long service payment, any severance payment and other related payments.
Mung regards the Labour Department as a “toothless tiger” for its failure to monitor the broadcaster. “The department only prosecuted the frontline staff like the ATV previous executive director Ip Ka-po. How about the investors who didn’t face any prosecution?” Mung says.
The Labour Department said it was very concerned about the incident and disagreed with the statement in which paying salaries to their staff was not important. “We urged the broadcaster to pay its staff and reminded them of importance of paying wages on time,” wrote the Department in response to Young Post’s inquiries.