A group of former RMJM employees is demanding the Hong Kong authorities ‘investigate and prosecute’ bosses at the troubled global practice
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The 25 former staff members from RMJM’s Kong Kong studio have enrolled councillor Lee Cheuk Yan, a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong (pictured at press conference), to ask the government to turn up the heat on RMJM chiefs.
The group, which is claiming £236,000 in unpaid wages, wants the Hong Kong Labour Department to enforce laws which state that failure to pay salaries and meet the terms of tribunal orders can be deemed a criminal offence.
According to a statement released by the ex-employees, ‘all affected individuals have followed the procedure stated in the Hong Kong Employment Ordinance, filing their claims at the Labour Department and Labour Tribunal’.
However, despite orders made by the Labour Tribunal in favour of the former staff, many are still waiting for their missing wages almost 10 months later.
In addition the AJ understands there remain four ‘live’ winding-up petitions against RMJM Hong Kong which lists Peter Morrison and Declan Thompson as company directors, and Nick Haston as a managing director.
A spokesman for the former employees said: ‘It is outrageous that RMJM continues to avoid its contractual obligations with staff; we have sent Morrison, Thompson and Haston multiple reminders to pay our overdue salaries but they have chosen to ignore both our pleas and the payment orders issued by the Labour Tribunal.
‘We’ve followed all legal procedures and now we are confident that the authorities in Hong Kong will investigate.’
Councillor Lee Cheuk Yan added: ‘I was shocked to learn about this case of abuse towards employees and Hong Kong labor laws. I have read the directors’ public admission of continuous delayed salaries and I have personally requested the government to prosecute these individuals for the criminal offences clearly stated in the Hong Kong Employment Ordinance.’
In response, Thompson played down the claims, stating that matter was being dealt with by the lawyers and adding that the once 1,200-strong company was about to embark on a new expansion programme.
He said: ‘It would be inappropriate to comment on the specifics of the press release by former employees other than to say the facts and circumstances are not as set out in the [statement released by the ex-employees] and the matter will be resolved appropriately and in accordance with local laws.
He added: ‘The practice of stoking the unparalleled press attention in negative stories about our business continues and perpetuates an impression of difficulties at RMJM. The reality is that we have faced and overcome many problems over the past few years which, while challenging, have never approached the magnitude of the story which has developed in the press.’
He concluded: ‘[We] will significantly expand over the course of this year following the establishment of an additional new studio late last year, which is already progressing well.
‘We’re already well advanced in our plans for the opening of a further studio in China later this year and will announce a further three studios in other parts of the world in the coming months.’