Hong Kong lifeguards went on strike Tuesday over staff shortage, sanitation and safety concerns brought on by an influx of mainland visitors using public swimming pools and beaches, according to Ming Pao Daily.
More than 250 members of the Hong Kong Lifeguards Union are taking part in the action. They are staging a sit-in outside the offices of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) in Shatin.
At least 10 public swimming pools and beaches, including Kowloon Park swimming pool and Silverstrand beach in Sai Kung, might be forced to close because of the strike.
The union wants the LCSD to hire more lifeguards and increase the starting salary from HK$13,000 to HK$17,000 a month in order to retain people.
The number of lifeguards has increased by 160 in the past three years, up about 10 percent. Hong Kong has 1,930 lifeguards, the LCSD said.
It plans to deploy off-duty lifeguards and transfer personnel from swimming pools and beaches in other districts to make up for the staff shortage during the strike.
However, it did not rule out closing some of the facilities.
Union vice chairman Alex Kwok said the influx of mainland tourists has increased the workload of lifeguards.
He said the mainlanders have poor basic hygiene and behave improperly.
“Some don’t use the toilet to urinate and simply jump into the pool without proper swimsuits. Others eat on the premises which is prohibited,” Kwok said.
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