Time to up minimum wage, say marchers
Kelly IpMonday, April 30, 2012
About 30 protesters marched from the HSBC headquarters to the Office of Chief Executive-elect Leung Chun-ying, urging him to review and raise the minimum wage level.
The protest, organized by the Confederation of Trade Unions, was the latest appeal for a higher payment level ahead of tomorrow’s first anniversary of the minimum wage being implemented.
CTU legislator Lee Cheuk-yan said the minimum hourly wage should be increased from the current HK$28 to HK$33, to account for inflation.
Lee also called for the wage level to be reviewed annually. He said raising the hourly wage would not lead to job losses, as many sectors are facing shortages.
He added that since the statutory minimum wage was implemented, more than 6,000 people have gone back to work.
CTU policy researcher Poon Man-hon said the minimum wage level of HK$28 is no longer sufficient to cover employees’ expenses due to rising inflation.
“Besides those from the grassroots, the salaries of some mid-level employees have only been raised by an average of 4-5 percent, but the inflation rate over the past year has exceeded 5 percent," he said.
Poon also urged the next administration to ensure wage bargaining rights for employees.
The CTU expressed concern at standard working hours. Poon said those at the grassroots often work 60 hours a week, while mid-level employees work extra hours daily without being compensated.
The union hopes to standardize the working hours to 44 hours a week, so workers have enough time to rest.
Although a higher minimum wage may not actually raise monthly payments substantially, Poon said the issue needs to be further discussed.
“The workers may work for shorter hours but still get a satisfactory salary."
He is confident there will be no problems if the minimum wage is reviewed again this year.
“There is actually a high demand for manpower and many employers said they are not able to hire workers."
The catering sector is particularly in need of more staff, Poon added.