今日，醫管局員工陣線（下稱本會）發動的醫護罷工踏入第三日。今早，本會代表聯同一眾新工會成員、立法會及區議會議員率先前往政府總部出席請願活動，並呼籲「緊急應變級別督導委員會暨指揮中心」的主席林鄭月娥與本會進行公開對話。但是，林鄭月娥對於超過 7000 名醫護人員罷工表態依然視若無睹，對本會及市民大眾的訴求仍然充耳不聞。本會亦在早上於海富中心天橋及在下午於八間醫院設置街站，讓各位罷工會員前往報到。根據本會數字，繼續有超過 7000 人參與第三日罷工，逼近醫院管理局（下稱醫管局）全體員工的 10%。
與昨天相近，參與行動的同事遍布各個職系，其中佔大多數為護士，參與人數超過 4500 人，佔全醫管局護士 17%；參與罷工的醫生人數約為 370人，佔全醫管局醫生 6%；參與罷工的專職醫療人數為超過 1000 人，佔全醫管局專職醫療 13%。其他參與罷工的會員包括支援人員和行政部門等。
【Hospital Authority Employees Alliance: Summary of Strike Day 3】
Today is the third day of strike initiated by the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA). This morning, together with other new unions, Legislative and District Councillors, the representatives of the HAEA went to the Central Government Offices to hand in petition letters. We have again urged for a public audience with Carrie Lam, the Chairperson of the Emergency Response Level Steering Committee cum Command Centre. Yet, she continued to show her disregard to the voices of the 7000 healthcare workers on strike, as well as to the demands made by the HAEA and the people of Hong Kong. The HAEA also set up stations at the Admiralty Centre Footbridge in the morning, and at eight hospitals in the afternoon for our members on strike to sign in. According to our data, over 7000 members have participated in the third day of our strike, which is close to 10% of all staff members within the Hospital Authority (HA).
Similar to yesterday, the members on strike included various departments and ranks. The majority is nursing staff- over 4500 of them have participated in today’s strike, which accounted for 17% of the total nursing staff in the HA. Around 370 doctors have also striked today, representing 6% of the total number of doctors in the HA. Over 1000 allied health professionals have taken part in today’s strike, which accounted for 13% of the total allied health staff in the HA. Other staff that striked today included supporting and administrative staff etc.
Today, Carrie Lam has announced a number of preventive measures for infection control, which includes making use of the “Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation” to implement 14 days of mandatory quarantine for anyone who arrives Hong Kong from China, Hong Kong citizens and non-citizens included. Those under quarantine will not be allowed to leave Hong Kong. These measures will be implemented on 8th February at midnight, yet “the details are still being drafted”, thus the government did not disclose the specific information on how they plan on quarantining tens of thousands of people arriving Hong Kong from China.
The HAEA has serious doubts on whether the aforementioned measures would be effective for infection control, especially when little details are disclosed, it is impossible to estimate the burden this would bring to our healthcare system. According to the numbers released by the Immigration Department yesterday (4th February), there was still nearly 10,000 passenger traffic recorded entering Hong Kong from China. If all of them are subjected to 14 days of quarantine, we cannot imagine whether Hong Kong has the sufficient manpower and resources to handle tens of thousands of people under quarantine. Even if this number is largely reduced as suggested optimistically by Carrie Lam, say down to only 10%, Hong Kong still need to facilitate the quarantine of more than 10,000 people at a time. Also, before the deadline of 8th February, there is still little restrictions on entries to Hong Kong from China, meaning that a large influx of people “rushing” to Hong Kong seems unavoidable. The HAEA expresses the highest level of doubt on whether Hong Kong has the ability to care for such a large number of people under mandatory quarantine, when we are already dealing with severe shortage of resources and the depletion of surgical masks in our community. The HAEA must reiterate our definition for the “full closure of the border” –
All Hong Kong permanent residents who enter Hong Kong from China must be subjected to mandatory quarantine for 14 days (same as the announcement made by the government today);
All other people, regardless of their nationality, should NOT be allowed to enter Hong Kong from China;
The transportation of everyday goods and infection control supplies should be allowed, with effective health monitoring measures for drivers and workers;
This definition does not contain any elements of discrimination, unlike the continued smearing on part of the government and other pro-government parties.
The HAEA is extremely worried about the arrival of 8th February, when Hong Kong would be turned into a large-scale isolation camp. Our already overwhelmed healthcare system will be under even more relentless pressure. As we have already suffered from one death and more locally-transmitted confirmed cases in Hong Kong, we are dangerously close to a massive community outbreak. However, in the press conference held by the HA just then, Dr Vivien Chuang, Chief Manager (Infection, Emergency and Contingency) stated that there is no need for patients with respiratory symptoms to stay in individual isolation rooms. The HAEA believes this goes against the infection control measures that have been adopted for years. We do not understand why there is a sudden change in recommendations, when those who were isolated individually yesterday could be isolated with others today. The HAEA suspects that due to the limited number of isolation rooms or wards, the HA has chosen to risk cross infections among patients in order to “solve” the problem of insufficient isolation facilities. The HAEA believes the situation now is tremendously critical, yet the HA has done no practical improvement regarding the support and protection of their frontline staff. Instead, they focused their energy on verbally asking the workers on strike to “change their minds” and come back to work. As the infected cases continue to enter our city from China, locally-transmitted cases also begin to rise, the healthcare workers within the HA need sufficient support, facilitation and protection to reduce their risk at work, now more than ever. For the sake of our colleagues and the patients under our care, the HAEA does not accept the possibility of any sacrifices of our colleagues.
As Hong Kong might soon become a large-scale isolation camp for travellers, while community-transmitted cases continue to appear, the HAEA worries that the HA will face an even worse situation, and the safety of it staff will be further compromised. While the spreading of the disease is at light speed, the HA continues to react at a snail’s pace. This would inevitably result in a severely dangerous working environment. As a trade union that represents one-fourth of the labour in the HA, the HAEA now urges the HA to negotiate with us immediately regarding the dire issues of limited resources to battle the infection. The HAEA now reiterates our demands towards the HA:
1. To provide sufficient isolation wards, to stop all non-emergency services
2. To provide sufficient support and facilitation for healthcare staff caring for patients under isolation
3. To publicly commit to not taking any disciplinary actions in retaliation
The failure of the HA in face of a fast approaching outbreak is simply unacceptable. The HAEA urges all members to continue our strike and fight till the end.
Hospital Authority Employees Alliance
(5th February, 2020)