Hongkong Post has said that the heavy overtime work of its staff was not an ideal situation, and that it was reviewing the working hours of staff in at effort to solve the problem at its source.

At a Legislative Council hearing of the Public Accounts Committee on Monday, lawmaker Raymond Wong Yuk-man questioned why Hongkong Post was cutting regular staff, but was paying close to HK$180 million for staff’s 1.36 million hours of overtime work in a year, as revealed by a series of reports released by the Director of Audit.

Hongkong Post Assistant Postmaster General Teresa Au told the council that it may be related to people coming to post offices too late in the day, so that staff have to stay behind to clear the mail.

General Post Office.
General Post Office.

Au added that the Air Mail Centre is open 24 hours a day with two shifts of staff. Hongkong Post has studied the possibility of adding another shift but, “the cost-effectiveness would not be so flexible.”

She said that different sections of Hongkong Post had been reviewing their manpower, and that it hoped to reduce overtime work.

At the same hearing, Postmaster General Jessie Ting said that postal service is a labour-intensive industry. The service employs more than 7,000 staff, and paying wages constituted almost half of its costs.

Ting added that Hongkong Post had been pushing forward measures to reduce the number of staff, including using more machines and better technology.

Hongkong Post has recorded an operating loss in eight years out of its 20 years of operation. Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said at the hearing that it had turned from loss to profit in the 2014-2015 year, and has a HK$160 million surplus.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.