The leader of a chefs’ labour union in Hong Kong has been dismissed from his job, allegedly because of his labour and political activism.

Ng Chi-fai was employed by the Hong Kong branch of German airline catering provider LSG Sky Chefs until last Wednesday. He said that the company had dismissed him, suggesting it was because of his poor attitude.

Ng Chi-fai (centre). Photo: InMedia.

Ng joined LSG Sky Chefs in 2015. In the same year, he ran unsuccessfully in the District Council election, and established the Hong Kong Chef Union.

The union has called for legislation to regulate working hours, and has protested against food and beverage corporations Maxims and Cafe de Coral.

‘Poor attitude’

Speaking to labour news outlet Worker News, Ng alleged that every time he participated in labour or political activism, the company would transfer him to a different post. After calling for overtime compensation last April, he claimed he was transferred to the Kwai Chung Terminal area, where he was put on rubbish-disposal duties.

He also claimed that – only two hours after participating in the march against Beijing’s interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law last November – the company transferred him to work at the headquarters of the state-owned Bank of China.

Ng said he was dismissed last Wednesday after his boss claimed he “ignored” him, citing a “poor attitude.” Ng said that he responded to his boss’ questions even though he was in the process of lifting a heavy load of food.

Hongkongers march in protest of the Basic Law interpretation. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Three days earlier, Ng had uploaded a video onto the Hong Kong Chef Union’s Facebook page, questioning chief executive candidate Carrie Lam on her labour policies.

An LSG Sky Chefs spokesperson declined HKFP’s request for comment, saying that she did not know anything about the case. Earlier, the company told Oriental Daily that it had only suspended Ng because he was emotionally unstable.

Legislation against unfair dismissal

Hong Kong Chef Union members rallied outside the Legislative Council in support of Ng on Friday, demanding an apology from the company and legislation against unfair dismissal.

“I cannot understand how this dismissal can be interpreted as a suspension of job duties,” he said, “because the human resources department has already contacted me about severance pay.”

Pro-democracy legislator Lau Siu-lai attended the rally and criticised LSG Sky Chefs for its dismissal of Ng.

Lau Siu-lai. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

“Capitalists in Hong Kong… can target people who fight for labour rights like Ng,” she said. “Employers only have to pay a small amount of money to fire people whenever they want.”

Last year, the Legislative Council attempted to introduce the Employment (Amendment) Bill to allow an employee to be reinstated without the employer’s consent in cases of unfair dismissal. However, it could not be passed before the end of the legislature’s term in July.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.