19 February 2009
Dear member agents and tour escorts
During the last few years, a member agent and its former tour escort were involved in several court cases in order to resolve their dispute over her statutory entitlements. After the Court of Final Appeal dismissed the member agent’s appeal application for its case to be heard by the highest court, issues surrounding the statutory entitlements of tour escorts are thus largely clarified. Nevertheless, as there remain some problems not yet solved by the relevant judgements, some tour escorts went on strike last week to express their opinions.
In view of the far-reaching implications of the case and in the hope that the interests of member agents, tour escorts and travellers will not be damaged, the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC) has all along been discussing the matter with member agents and tour escort unions, and has also invited the Labour Department to explain the relevant law.
The TIC has learnt that member agents will compensate tour escorts according to the Employment Ordinance as far as their statutory entitlements are concerned, which include holiday pay, annual leave pay, sickness allowance, wages in lieu of notice, etc. The current contention between member agents and tour escorts lies in the calculation of rest day pay.
Since the Employment Ordinance does not provide for rest day pay, whether a rest day is paid or not and how it is calculated should be agreed by employers and employees. Generally speaking, mutual agreement refers to contracts signed by both parties, verbal agreements between them or practices actually in place. As the interests of member agents and tour escorts are closely connected, the TIC appeals to both parties to calm down and work out a solution satisfactory to everyone concerned so that travellers will not be affected and the travel industry can continue to grow healthily.
With the global financial crisis confronting Hong Kong, the outbound industry is among one of the hardest hit industries: the outbound levy plunged by more than 30% in January this year on one year earlier. During these very difficult times, it is critically important for both member agents and tour escorts to work together and carefully protect their harmonious relationship, which takes a long time to cultivate, in order to weather the current crisis.
Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong