Union members decry 'rampant bullying' in public hospitals

January 28, 2019 15:41
Members of the Hospital Authority Workers General Union gather outside the Hospital Authority’s headquarters in Mong Kok to call for action against "rampant bullying" in their workplace. Photo: TVB News

As public hospitals try to cope with the serious shortage of manpower during the flu season, some of the workers are asking the government to address the “bullying culture” in these institutions.

About 20 members of the Hospital Authority Workers General Union gathered outside the authority’s headquarters on Argyle Street in Mong Kok on Sunday to denounce the "rampant bullying" in the workplace, saying that some staff members had been improperly treated by their supervisors, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Holding protest banners, the employees said public hospitals will only see more of their staff leaving if the Hospital Authority fails to tackle the problem of bullying.

Their complaints include supervisors who write biased reports that made it hard for staff to get a promotion, and supervisors who form an investigation panel against staff they do not like while staff rarely do the same to their supervisors.

Dr. Lam Kuen, the union's chairwoman, said such behavior from supervisors would only weaken staff morale at a time when workers are already under severe pressure from the heavy workload and lack of manpower in public hospitals during the winter flu season, RTHK reported.

The authority should make it clear that it has zero tolerance to any bullying in the workplace while ensuring that the workplace is fair and transparent, and staff can work with dignity and security, Lam was quoted as saying.

The union said it has received about 80 complaints against abusive or bullying supervisors over the past two years, but not one of those involved got punished. It called on the authority to undertake governance reforms to prevent the loss of more talents.

Responding to the union's complaints, the HA said it attaches great importance to the work performances of public hospital staff.

There is an established mechanism to review staff performance and handle matters related to contract renewals, it said.

The HA also urged staff to make use of various available channels to voice their concerns, adding that there is an established mechanism to deal with staff complaints.

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