Hopes for smoother labour talks
By CATHERINE NG
A NEW forum to improve relations between the Legislative Council and the Labour Advisory Board comes into being tomorrow.
Employer and employee representatives from the board and Legco will attend a lunch to discuss labour issues, including the pressing item of wage definition.
The new forum was agreed to by both sides after weeks of negotiation, following unionist Lee Cheuk-yan's resolution last month over increasing ex gratia payments for laid-off workers.
Legco labour representative Lee Kai-ming said the Government would be the middleman and Legco's manpower panel would form the bridge of communication.
Differing opinions among staff about their choice of representatives had led to prolonged discussions.
Some of the board's staff members rejected the suggestion that they should have a role.
Member Cheung Kwok-biu said his concern was that their workload would become heavier and the role of the board would be overridden by the new body.
He further noted other members' fears that the mechanism would be politicised.
Mr Lee said yesterday the solution was that members from the board and the panel could feel free to join any gatherings.
'The mechanism will be in the form of irregular and informal gatherings which will be held when important and controversial issues are concerned.
'All can join whenever they have interest in the subjects,' he said.
Mr Lee added the panel and board would keep each other well informed about their agenda in future.
'The Education and Manpower Branch will still play an important role to liaise with political parties and lobby their support for consensus reached by the board and by the gatherings,' he said.
Mr Lee stressed that through the gatherings, members must develop an understanding about the process of negotiation.
'Though some Legco members may still like to put forward their private amendments or bills to revise the consensus reached through the process, the chance for them to win will be relatively lower,' he said.