Monday, 4 August 2014

Another Reason to Strike

Swimmers enjoying the Kowloon Park Swimming Pool
There's a good chance many people won't be able to go swimming in their neighbourhood pool or beach tomorrow because 100 lifeguards will be on strike for one day.

They are protesting against staff shortages and increased workloads caused by an influx of mainlanders who come to swim in the pools particularly in Fanling and Sheung Shui. There are complaints that these day trippers don't respect pool etiquette and mainland children will urinate near the pools, resulting in more efforts to clean them more often.

Alex Kwok Siu-kit, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Lifeguards' Union says he has seen more mainlanders come to swim in the city in recent years, while the government has cut the number of lifeguards at pools and beaches by 30 percent in 2004.

No one in the water yet at the Morrison Hill Swimming Pool...
Kwok said last month, a friend of his who works at the Kowloon Park Swimming Pool reported seeing a group of 40 mainland tourists who were there for a one-day "swimming tour".

"They were holding a flag that said, 'Hong Kong swimming one-day tour'. They came at around 1pm and swam for about three hours. There were 40 of them," Kwok said.

He adds that people aren't interested in entering the profession because of the heavy workload and it's a dead-end career. But who is a lifeguard for the long term anyway? In the west many young people see it as a summer job or a temporary one to earn money for tertiary education.

The average salary of a lifeguard is HK$15,000 a month.

In any event, the union is calling for the number of lifeguards to be increased by 20 percent.

This is not the first time lifeguards have gone on strike, and it certainly won't be the last.

While it's understandable lifeguards may feel they have more work to do, so do the rest of us. But at the same time, if the Hong Kong government is encouraging people to get fit, there should be a few more lifeguards watching over swimmers too...


  1. well, the pools and beaches generally are for the people of HK. So therefore for pools should charge triple the normal fees for mainlanders since mainlanders are abusing the system since they don't contribute to it (in forms of taxes.)

    1. Hi nulle -- sounds like a proposal to give to the LCSD!