1. 邀請工友、學員、家屬和相關持份者參與重建計劃的規劃；2. 保留現時盲人工廠聘用殘疾人士作生產的工作模式及不裁減任何工友，並於重建後增加聘用殘疾工友的 比例；3. 盡力保留現有工廠內不同的生產線和工種，並於新建的綜合康復服務大樓內重置，避免對現有的工友和學員的工作造成影響；4. 反對遷往屯門作過渡安排，尋覓九龍區的地方或處所作過渡安排之用，並於有需要時將工廠的不同生產線搬遷到不同處所分開運作；5. 即時停止打壓工友及學員；停止鉗制反對聲音；6. 將工友的退休年齡由55歲延至65歲。
(English Version)The Factory for the Blind has been in operation for 56 years since it was established in 1963 by theHong Kong Society for the Blind (The Society). It is the only service unit in Hong Kong employingpersons with visual or intellectual disability that is subsidised by the government, and operates severalproduction lines manufacturing treasury tags with metal ends, garments and paper goods. The Factory is equipped with a sheltered workshop in which disabled apprentices receive vocational, rehabilitative training. Currently, 55 paid workers and around 150 apprentices work and train in the Factory.
Planned closing and reconstruction of the Factory
The Society has applied for the government’s Special Scheme on Privately Owned Sites for WelfareUses in order to reconstruct the Factory into an Integrated Rehabilitation Services Complex andincrease the supply of subvented rehabilitation places. While most of us expected the reconstruction plans would improve the working environment and conditions of the disabled workers and apprentices, the Society surprised all by deciding against keeping the Factory in the new complex. The Society explains that the production lines are unlikely to be sustained due to the decline of the garment industry and competition of paper goods manufacturing from mainland China. The reconstruction plans have been in the pipes for a few years, but the workers and apprentices have never been consulted - in fact, they only learned of the plan in October 2018.
Shutting down production lines will inevitably affect the livelihoods of the disabled workers. While theSociety has proposed retraining them into other lines of work (such as cleaning and massaging), theirage, health conditions and limited capacities mean that they are likely to find such a transition moredifficult than ordinary workers. If the workers at the Factory cannot retrain for a different industrysuccessfully, the only career path left for them is to become an apprentice training at the newComplex. They would lose their HK$8000 to HK$9000 monthly salary and receive a small livingstipend of around HK$1000 instead, as well as the protections and benefits they were originallyentitled to as workers. We are deeply concerned about the bleak future that these workers could befacing if this plan goes through.
The “Tuen Mun Transitional Arrangement”
The reconstruction is expected to take four years; in the meantime, the Factory workers andapprentices are to be relocated to another Society-operated centre, the Jockey Club Tuen Mun Homefor the Aged Blind. The changes in surrounding environment, transportation and work arrangementsare expected to be momentous, and the workers and apprentices are not confident that they canadapt well. Despite the support services offered by the Factory, including meal plans and transportprovisions, the relocation of the workers away from more urban areas will indubitably undermine theirindependence and autonomy. Some apprentices even said that they will not relocate to Tuen Mun,preferring to withdraw from the service or apply for a place in other service units.
As a government-subsidised social welfare service unit, we are disappointed that the Factory isshutting down its production lines and jeopardising the livelihoods of its workers for commercial andbusiness reasons. We are also dissatisfied that the reconstruction plan and transitional arrangementwere approved without the input from the workers, apprentices and their families. Therefore, we arepetitioning for the Society, the Labour and Welfare Bureau, and the Social Welfare Department to:
1. Invite the Factory’s workers, apprentices, their families, and other stakeholders to partake indrawing up the reconstruction plan;2. Keep the Factory and its policy of hiring persons with disabilities, promise not to lay off any workers, and increase the ratio of disabled employees after the reconstruction;3. Do their utmost to retain the existing production lines and types of work in the Factory andensure that these will be retained in the new Integrated Rehabilitation Services Complex to avoidaffecting the work and livelihood of the workers and apprentices;4. Stand against the “Tuen Mun Transitional Arrangement”, and search for space in the Kowloonarea instead; where necessary, certain production lines in the Factory may be moved to anotherlocation to keep them in operation;5. Stop suppressing dissent from the workers and apprentices6. Raise the retirement age of the workers from 55 to 65 years old.
Petition organisers:Alliance concerned with the reconstruction of the Factory for the BlindThe Office of Legislative Councillor Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung
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