Wage increase's 'negative impact'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 May, 2012, 12:00am


The Legislative Council is discussing whether or not to increase the city's HK$28-an-hour minimum wage law.

Catering sector lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said restaurants were already suffering from the HK$28-an-hour minimum wage.

He pointed to a survey of 36 companies that employ a total of 43,000 staff at 1,000 restaurants.

Some would see profits wiped out by even a modest increase in the wage, Cheung said. Half of them would be running at a loss if the wage went up by just HK$1. They might close or have to cut staff or raise prices.

The survey found that an hourly minimum wage of HK$33 - advocated by many trade unionists - would lead 44 per cent of those questioned to scale down their businesses or close.

'Can you [the government] provide more accurate data [on the impact] so that the Minimum Wage Commission is not misled?' Cheung asked.

But unionists rebutted his views. 'The problem is that while the rich [business operators] are suffering, the poor [the workers] can't make ends meet,' Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said.

Lawmaker Li Fung-ying said the current wage was based on out-of-date data.

Mabel Li Po-yi, a Labour Department assistant commissioner, said a study on the wage's knock-on effects has been commissioned.

Elderly homes have also been heavily affected by the wage increases for carers, said Chan Chi-yuk, chairman of the Elderly Services Association of Hong Kong.