The Rights and Complaints Department, HKPTU
The “Code of Aid” is part of the teacher’s appointment which regulates the job protection of teachers. This has been established according to a judgment handed down by the Court of Final Appeal in the case of KO HON YUE v the Management Committee of Fung Kai No. 1 Secondary School for the year 2001 (FACV 8/2011, 2012.2.23) . The “Code of Aid” is the terms that the government requires schools to follow when they are given subsidy. If schools do not comply with the “Code of Aid”, then the Permanent Secretary for Education can ‘reduce, withhold or withdraw any grant made to the school as appropriate in the circumstances so as to safeguard the interests of students and the Government’. From this, it can be seen the EDB has the power and responsibility to supervise schools to comply with the related “Code of Aid”.
Unfortunately, a recent issue of unreasonable dismissal of a teacher from an aided secondary school highlighted that the EDB has not only failed to correct the irregularities, but also exposed the situation where the Bureau refused to fulfil its responsibility. This is a very serious condition.
An “Out of nothing” Reason for Dismissal
Mr. SUN Kwok-yu, a senior Physical Education teacher who taught in Lee Kau Yan Memorial School for over thirty years and is liked by other teachers and students, received his dismissal letter few days before the end of the summer holiday from the supervisor of the school CHOW Siu-ngor. The direct reason for dismissal was that during the Taiwan residential trip Mr. SUN organised between 4-9 July, “high risk” activities such as canoeing, cycling and horse-riding were involved. But the fact is, none of those “high risk” activities were organised in the trip. These activities only appeared in the first draft of the itinerary for internal discussion. After the discussion, the activities were changed to visiting stables, experiencing horse caring, cycling quad bikes at riverside, and etc. Canoeing was even cancelled. The reason for dismissal was unreal and to add Mr. SUN to sin.
The Unserviceable EDB
The HKPTU held a press conference with Mr. SUN on 28 August to indicate the unreasonableness of the dismissal by the school. At the same time, the HKPTU also wrote to the EDB to urge the Bureau to be involved in the investigation and revoke the dismissal decision.
The HKPTU received a reply from the EDB on 20 October. In the letter, it has been pointed out that Lee Kau Yan Memorial School has ‘obviously violated the process prescribed in the “Code of Aid” ’. But for the dismissal act of the school, the EDB claimed that ‘because the dismissal of teachers by a school is under the employment contract and is regulated by the “Employment Ordinance”, the Bureau would not comment on such issue. If needed, Mr. SUN may seek help from the Labour Department’. The EDB unexpectedly did not comment on the dismissal part. This fully shows the EDB is irresponsible. The EDB has responsibilities that it does not want to fulfil, and power that it does not want to use. It fails to supervise schools as the official organisation.
The HKPTU is deeply disappointed and indignant for the practice of the EDB. For this, we held another press conference with Mr. SUN on 20 November to reveal to the public the uselessness of the EDB.
The EDB has Long Been in Dereliction of Duty
EDB’s failure of monitoring the governance of Lee Kau Yan Memorial School has long been questioned. The school had suddenly issued a verbal advice, a verbal warning and a written warning that are of three different levels of disciplinary action on the same day on 1 September 2015 to Mr. SUN. Those warnings were only pointed to mild incidents that happened 16 months and 9 months ago. The HKPTU wrote to the EDB on 9 September to report the problem. Though the EDB urged the school to reconsider the punishment for Mr. SUN, until Mr. SUN was dismissed, the school is yet to review the related decisions. It has disregarded the opinion from the EDB totally. An employer issuing three different levels of disciplinary punishment to its employee on the same day is already an absurd act, let alone this happened in an aided school which is subsidised by the government and supervised by the EDB.
Over Sixty Teachers Left the School
As known, during the ten years that the principal LAI Ping-wah has been in office, over sixty teachers have already left for different reasons. From the academic year 2008/09 onwards, the HKPTU has received a shocking eight cases seeking for help with the problem of governance by the principal of Lee Kau Yan Memorial School. This rate of turnover is incredible in aided secondary schools and is totally unacceptable. It is only under the connivance of the EDB that the school could do whatever it wanted.
Connivance can No Longer be Endured
Petition for the Rights of Co-workers
The EDB disregards its own responsibility on monitoring schools and connive them not to comply with rules. We can no longer endure such an act. If this unhealthy trend spreads, it will damage the protection on job security by the “Code of Aid” to our fellow educational workers. Our union is initiating a petition and declaration to urge the EDB to take up its responsibility on monitoring schools and to make sure that the school management are complying with the “Code of Aid” to allow schools to operate efficiently. If a school violates the “Code of Aid” in its operation, the EDB should instruct the school to stop and correct its violation act to protect the due rights of teachers.
If you have any enquiry on employment related issue, please contact our Rights and Complaints Department at 2780 7337.