EMFTF Staff Situation Paper
LegCo Panel on Public Service
10:45 AM, 15 March 1999

In preparation of the establishment of the Electrical and Mechanical Services Trading Fund (EMSTF) and with a view to maintaining and improving staff relations in the department, a staff relations unit headed by a Chief Executive Officer has been set up in the department in early 1995. The role of the unit is to enhance communication between management and staff and to provide staff relations input on matters affecting the latter.

2. The EMSTF was set up in August 1996 amid concern from all grades of staff because of fear of loss of tenure of office and/or possibility of redundancy where staff would be required to retire prematurely. Staff were given assurance in writing by the Secretary for Works that the setting up of the trading fund would not result in any of them who were in post before 1 August 1996 being declared redundant at a later date, subject to staff agreeing to redeployment and re-training as necessary. Since then, there has been a steady improvement on all staff relations fronts. Staff are also showing increasingly more positive response to trading fund arrangements.

3. The EMSTF has been in operation for over two years and staff have been adapting gradually and positively to the mode of operation. There is now a general understanding by staff on the need for the department to provide an efficient, reliable and cost-effective service. This can well be demonstrated by the understanding and generally co-operative attitude of the staff during the following staff re-deployment exercises:-

  1. Closure of Kwai Chung Incineration Plant (some 120 staff redeployed);

  2. Regionalisation and Reorganization (1133 staff redeployed);

  3. Handing over of military Depot to PLA (91 staff redeployed); and

  4. Closure of Kai Tak Airport and operation of Chek Lap Kok International Airport (some 400 staff redeployed).
4. The successful completion of these re-deployment exercises resulted in substantial improvement to our operation. The department is on target to achieve the 15% productivity improvement without a single case of staff redundancy within the first 3 years of trading fund operation. However, the Enhanced Productivity Programme announced in the Policy Address 1998 means higher client expectations and presssures on us for further productivity improvement. We plan to achieve further improvement in subsequent years.

5. Despite the Secretary for Works' assurance on job security and the productivity improvement so far planned/achieved, the staff, though understanding and cooperative, are still very much concerned of the possible loss of jobs when E&M services are to be opened up for competition by 1 August 1999.

Staff opinion and sentiments

6. the EMSTF management continuously monitors staff attitudes and strives to address their concerns. Staff opinion and sentiments are guaged through the following means :

  1. Feedback Through Customer Satisfaction Survey
  2. EMSTF is on the right track in putting emphasis on customer focused services. The results of the 1998 Customer Satisfaction Survey showed a customer satisfaction index of 5.24 on a scale of 1 to 8 as compared to 4.84 in 1997. The survey revealed that courtesy, flexibility and helpfulness were the attributes given the highest scores by our customers.

  3. Feedback Through Staff Opinion Survey
  4. To gain an understanding of the level of satisfaction and the areas of concern among staff members, we commissioned a consultant firm to conduct a Staff Opinion Survey in 1997. The overall staff satisfaction index is 36.46 on a scale of 100. This index is considered to be marginally acceptable as advised by the consultant, since the staff satisfaction index in this kind of survey normally falls between 30 to 60. In June 1998, we advised staff vide the departmental newsletter "Group Voice" that the areas of concern as revealed by the survey had been looked into and the action to be taken to address them. Another survey in 1999 is being planned to gauge staff opinion since the 1997 survey.

  5. Communication with Staff
  6. The department has long recognised the fact that staff are our most valuable assets. There are many formal and informal channels of two-way communication with them. These are explained and summarised below.

    1. Departmental Consultative Committees (DCC)

      Separate Consultative Committees(CCs) are formed both on grade and divisional structure basis. At present there are 10 CCs in total and meetings are held quarterly (See attached list in Appendix A). Each CC has its own staff side meeting to agree on the areas of concern and items to be discussed prior to meeting with the management. Progress of EMSTF is a standing item of all CC meetings and a report updated every 3 months. With effect from the March 1999 issue, it will be updated every month in order to keep staff more closely informed of issues in the trading fund development.

    2. Regular Meetings with Staff Associations/Unions

      Regular meetings with the staff associations/unions are held on a quarterly and ad hoc basis, supplemented by informal meetings with their executive committee members.

    3. The Communication Task Force

      The Task Force is formed with a view to further strengthening communication between management and staff. The initiatives implemented under this scheme include the Director and General Manager's briefing for all ranks of staff. Since November 1996, 4 briefings consisting of 14 sessions were conducted for staff of all grades & ranks. The themes of the last 4 briefings programmes are : Changes under EMSTF - the Very Important First Three Years ; Partners Together for a Better Tomorrow ; Continuous Improvement in a Changing Environment ; Prepare for the Real Test

    4. Ambassador Programme

      The programme is launched as one of the key initiatives to further improve internal communication within the department. Through the face-to-face discussions between senior/middle managers and staff, concerns on the EMSTF development and policies are effectively conveyed and properly addressed. There are 3 levels of Ambassadors:

      AmbassadorsStaff to be visited Frequency of Visits
      Level 1
      General Manager
      Trading Services Manager
      Business Development Manager
      Engineering Branch Manager(1)
      Engineering Branch Manager(2)


      at least once every 2
      Level 2
      Division Heads (D1)
      Work Supervisors
      at least once every month
      Level 3
      Regional/Section Managers
      Work Supervisors
      General workforce

      A total of 91 work sites were visited in 1998 with the first visit kicked off by Trading Services Manager on 26 January 1998. Planning for the 1999 programme is underway and will begin from March/April.

    5. The Trading Fund Communique

      The Trading Fund Communique is issued monthly to keep staff members abreast of current active EMSTF news. It is posted on notice boards all over the department and is used by staff to share ideas and experience.

    6. Group Voice

      The Group Voice is another departmental newsletter which is issued every month covering EMSTF news, departmental reorganization & regionalisation progress, departmental policies, activities organised by divisions/EMSD Staff Club, etc. The newsletter is sent to every member of the department and staff seconded to other departments. Many staff members have made contributions to the newsletter.

    The untying exercise

    7.A programme in phases spreading over the next few years to untie our customers in the public service will be announced shortly and this is a major area that staff are concerned. EMSTF has given advance notice to staff of the forthcoming untying exercise and our plan to negotiate for continuing our business. Staff representatives are well aware of the policy whereby staff appointed before 1 August 1996 will not be subject to redundancy in case business cannot be maintained provided that in the event of loss of business in one particular area, staff in that area are prepared to accept re-deployment to other business areas and if necessary to re-training. To this end staff are generally positive in reacting to business strategy to be adopted by management in order to compete under market conditions.

    8. Management has also taken precaution to recruit new staff on agreement terms to maximise flexibility in staff deployment in case of changes in business on untying.

    February 1999.

    Appendix A

    Consultative Committee
    Electrical and Mechanical Services Department

    The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) Consultative Committee comprise:-
    1. The EMSD Professional Staff Consultative Committee;

    2. The EMSD Inspectorate and Technical Staff Consultative Committee;

    3. The EMSD General and Common Grades Staff Consultative Committee;

    4. The EMSD Junior Staff Consultative Committee;

    5. The EMSD Divisional Staff Consultative Committee:-

      1. The airport Division Consultative Committee;
      2. The General Engineering Services Division Consultative Committee;
      3. The Health Sector Division Consultative Committee;
      4. The Municipal Sector Division Consultative Committee;
      5. The Transports, Security and Central Services Division Consultative Committee; and
      6. The Vehicle Engineering Division Consultative Committee