From University Staff’s Union to HKPTU Talk with Fung Wai-wah

PTU News Reporter

HKPTU is the largest trade union in Hong Kong, which has now more than 90,000 members. To keep the normal operation of this large organization, besides the members’ support, a reliable leader is also very essential. We are now very delighted to have our President, Fung Wai-wah, to talk about his service in our union and other positions.

Fung Wai-wah, our President, started his teaching career in the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) since 1989 and became a member of HKPTU in the same year. Before joining Executive Committee of the HKPTU, Fung had already taken part in the staff association of the CityU proactively. In 2003, since the Government intended to withdraw the subvention for publicly-funded sub-degree programs, CityU wanted therefore to fire all the teaching staff and employees of the sub-degree programs, the number of whom amounted to over 200 persons. In that year, Fung organized with other staff members and students a group called  ” Save the College Action Group of CityU ” to strive for saving the sub-degree programs of the Institution. The action group has staged some confrontations and even lodged a complaint to the Panel on Education of LegCo. Even though the Government reduced considerably the amount of subvention for the sub-degree programs, the Action group successfully switched the operation mode of sub-degree programs from subsidized basis to a self-financing basis and the concerned staff can remain in the position. In the following year, Cheung Man-kwong, the then President, invited him to become a member of the Executive Committee of HKPTU.

Being a Council Member of CityU

Besides serving on the Executive Committee of HKPTU, Fung has been serving as an elected Council member of CityU since 2006 till now. In 2008, CY Leung was appointed CityU Council Chairman. Fung was very much impressed when he as well as other representatives of staff association met CY Leung for the first time. Before the terms of office of CY Leung, CityU had reduced the salary of the teaching staff of the Community College by around 14% to share the public hardship. At that time CityU promised to compensate the concerned staff when the Institution had financial surplus. However, when the institution had financial surplus in the following successive years, they refused to compensate the concerned staff. ‘ We intended to request CY Leung to compensate the staff and we submitted our proposal to CY Leung in the meeting with him. However, CY refused the proposal adamantly and said, ” I know it, but we won’t  talk on it today,”  said Fung. Since then CY has never followed up this issue.

Fung felt that CY served on Council of CityU only for regulating CityU. When the following three years CY serving as CityU Council Chairman, he continued to keep a strong stand, same as what he does in his current position as the Chief Executive. As his capacity of CityU Council chairman, he has sent three times a lawyer’s letter to Fung and representatives of other staff’s unions. As far as he remembered, when he joined a protest outside the library of CityU, the electricity for the loudspeakers stopped and the protest was affected. Later, staff association stated in an email to other colleagues that “some shoe shiner in the Management of CityU can brutally switch off our loudspeakers, but they cannot shut us up.” “CityU later sent me and other colleagues a lawyer’s letter and accused us of defamation. Actually this accusation was not justified and these lawyerls letters finally led to nowhere.” he said.

Younger Executive Committee

About the union’s affairs, Fung talked about the new Executive Committee which was in office since April 2016. Fung pointed out that when he organized this new committee, he invited some new young colleagues to join. The number of post 80s Executive Committee members increased from 6 to 10 and we have even one post 90s member. He understands that many young colleagues are confronted with the difficulties like employment of regular teachers on contracts of a defined period. We hope that the new committee can be younger and more energetic, so that our Executive Committee can know more the difficulties facing by our young colleagues. “We are all the time striving for more number of permanent teaching posts for those teachers on contract and this will be one of our top prioritized tasks,” said Fung.

Besides this, other Executive Committee members have their own strength and specialization, such as Chong Yiu Kwong, our former Deputy Director of Rights and Complaints Department, served as Vice President in the new terms of office. Since he is a solicitor, we believe that he will make good use of his professional knowledge to fight for more protection for our colleagues and provide our colleagues with professional legal advice. Our another Vice President is Cheung Yui Fai, who is now a deputy secondary school head and teacher of Liberal Studies. He was a former Director of Education Research Department in the last Executive Committee. Fung believed that thanks to Cheung’s profound knowledge in many controversial educational policies, HKPTU will establish a very sound and convincing standpoint when drafting our proposal on educational policies.

Members’s Indispensable Support

At the end of the interview, Fung would like to express his thankfulness for members’ continuous support. “Members” support is indispensable for the success of HKPTU, just as in the election of LegCo, the candidate of HKPTU has been elected with overwhelming support for many years. Thanks to the unceasing support of our members, HKPTU has been capable of negotiating with the Government in different issues and fighting for better protection of the staff and against the poor policies of the Government,” concluded Fung. Fung also thanked for more than 30,000 members voting in the election of the Executive Committee of HKPTU. He will keep on trying his best to serve and be anytime under close scrutiny of all the members.