Minimum Wage to Be Enjoyed by Hongkong Workers for the First Time

Steven Bobson, Europe & Americas Editor
May 02, 2011 /

Hongkong workers are expected to experience a minimum wage of HK$28 ($3.60) for the first time. It is assumed to benefit 270,000 low-wage workers who make up 10 percent of Hongkong’s population.

The new decree is a means of the Hongkong government to narrow the country’s wealth gap, which is being demanded by the public.

It is expected to boost the income of street sweepers, security guards and restaurant workers in the country but not the territory’s 300,000 domestic helpers, who come majority from the Philippines and Indonesia.

The Hongkong government said that it was compelled to implement the legislation because of tepid responses from businesses during the voluntary minimum wage scheme in 2006.

Accordingly, because of expensive living costs, unions originally campaigned for a minimum wage of HK$33 ($4.25) per hour but it was resisted by the business community because it was too pricey.

Actually, even before the decree was implemented, businesses and workers already had disputes about it.

Businesses said that because of it, they, especially the small ones, will be forced to lay off some staff workers and some employers will have to rehire workers to new contracts with unpaid meals and rest days to avoid giving a higher wage bill.

Critics also add that because of the legislation, Hongkong is a deviating from its free market roots.

Hongkong Confederation of Trade Unions General Secretary and legislator Lee Cheuk-yan said that the new legislation will keep the employers from squeezing the lowest-paid sectors of the society.

Aside from Singapore, most Asian countries now have a minimum wage or are considering one.

 

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