Street cleaners and MTR staff are unsung heroes – and victims – of unrest

South China Morning Post 發布於 2019年09月16日16:09 • Alex Loalex.lo@scmp.com
  • Those left to clear up mess after months of violent protest are exposed to danger and expected to perform additional duties with little reward
A worker begins the process of cleaning up after the Legislative Council complex was vandalised during an anti-government protest on July 1. Photo: Nora Tam

While young people fight for a noble cause called THEIR FUTURE, they may pause to consider who's paying the price for their actions in the present. Now everyone has been affected, but I will single out two groups who have been especially victimised: street cleaners and MTR workers.

Thousands of elderly street cleaners on minimum wage have to clean up after them every weekend " broken glass, burnt-out rubbish bins, discarded umbrellas, goggles and masks and debris of all sorts. Many have to brave the smell of tear gas early in the morning as they work to clean up the city.

The staff of MTR stations have to work extra shifts overnight to repair damaged railings, control rooms, security cameras, smashed windows, broken gates and ticket machines.

Hong Kong's cleaners left in tears as they pick up after protests

Almost 90 per cent of MTR stations have been vandalised, many repeatedly. Worst of all is that staff have been targeted and beaten up, some seriously, by rioters. Protesters may be angry with decisions made by MTR managers, but that's not the fault of ordinary station staff who bear the brunt of their attacks and harassment.

But I don't just blame our misguided and often violent youth; MTR executives and senior government officials are equally at fault, if not more so.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is exploiting elderly cleaners to make them perform extra and potentially dangerous clean-up work, all under the misguided policy of keeping the streets clean. They therefore allow contractors to force cleaners, who have virtually no labour protection, to perform additional duties with little or no extra compensation.

Under such extraordinary circumstances after three months of continuous unrest, people cannot expect to have clean streets after a night of mayhem.

Department director Vivian Lau Lee-kwan and deputy director Diane Wong Shuk-han should deal with their own mess, not exploit elderly workers.

Again, no one can expect MTR stations to function normally after being extensively damaged and vandalised just hours before. But MTR executives, including CEO Jacob Kam Chak-pui, claim they don't want to cause inconvenience to passengers. I am sorry, but the safety of your workers is far more important than customer satisfaction. MTR unions should just refuse to work under such circumstances.

Let Hong Kong people live with the consequences of unrelenting riots and mayhem. Let those who support the rioters walk through debris and rubbish to work because there is no MTR service. Let's see how long they can put up with that.

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