The Labour Party and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) said they suspect that cleaning services providers at public housing estates were colluding with each other to win contracts through rigged bids, leading to a virtual monopoly by a few firms in the market.
Accusing the cleaning services firms of not playing fair, the groups called on the Competition Commission to launch investigations, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The accusation came after a number of cleaning workers at Hoi Lai Estate, a public housing estate in Lai Chi Kok, staged a strike recently to protest against exploitation by their employers－Hong Kong Commercial Cleaning Services and Man Shun Hong Kong & Kowloon Cleaning Co., both of which won outsourcing services contracts from the Housing Department.
The Labour Party and HKCTU said they carried out some investigations which further revealed that the two companies and six other firms of their kind had formed three groups that were allegedly helping each other win most of the bids for public housing cleaning contracts tendered by the government.
The cornering of the work deals is tantamount to monopolization, they said.
According to data presented by the parties on Wednesday, the eight cleaning services firms, between themselves, had bagged contracts involving at least 21 public housing estates, with the deals worth more than HK$360 million put together.
It amounts to a 70 percent market share for those firms as a whole, the Labour Party and the HKCTU said.
Chiu Yan-loy, a Labour Party community officer, said the Hong Kong Chamber of Cleansing Contractors Ltd., which comprises Hong Kong Commercial Cleaning, Man Shun and three other entities and is one of the three groups suspected to be involved in bid rigging, has taken turns to win contracts for providing cleaning services in at least seven public housing estates over the past 10 years.
They have earned themselves more than HK$100 million through such suspicious rigging practices, according to Chiu.
Chiu also pointed out that some owners of the colluding outsourcing companies are related to each other, suggesting that the family and personal ties have played a part in the bid collusion.
The Labour Party has filed a complaint to the Competition Commission demanding investigations into whether the contractors have been seeking to carve out the market for themselves through underhand tactics.
A spokesperson for the Competition Commission said the agency has been aware of the public concerns about the bidding system of outsourcing cleaning services for public housing estates, and that the agency has been in touch with the Housing Authority over the matter.
The Housing Authority’s tender committee is scheduled to discuss the issue on Thursday.
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