Practices failure elsewhere, says Chief Executive

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 August, 1997, 12:00am

Tung Chee-hwa yesterday attacked the labour laws which were frozen by the provisional legislature early last month.

The laws, under review by the Labour Advisory Board, were described by Mr Tung as imposing 'unduly restrictive employment practices and terms and conditions'.

'Excessive protection and restrictive employment practices have failed elsewhere in the West and they have no place in Hong Kong,' he told a lunch hosted by the Australian Chamber of Commerce.

'Such practices will hurt Hong Kong in the long-term and in doing so they will hurt the very labour force they are designed to protect.' Mr Tung said he was aware of criticism of the suspension by the provisional legislature of four laws - three on labour issues - endorsed by the now-disbanded legislative council.

The laws allowed collective bargaining, the use of union money for political lobbying and banned anti-union discrimination.

Mr Tung said: 'I believe these laws were passed hastily, without proper consultation or careful consideration by all the parties concerned.

'My main concern is that these laws could hurt our competitiveness by bringing in unduly restrictive employment practices and terms and conditions.' Mr Tung said employers and employees had built 'harmonious relations' over the past few decades despite changes in the economy.

The number of working days lost through labour disputes averaged half-a-day for every 1,000 workers, he said.

Mr Tung declined to say whether the Government was planning to cut profits tax in the next financial year.

But he said there was a need to think about how best to use the SAR's huge surplus. It might be used to provide special services, greater incentive by reducing taxes or for investments to make Hong Kong more competitive.

Mr Tung said he was confident of achieving the housing targets he set out in his inaugural speech, citing the availability of land as well as financial resources.