No end in sight to hard times

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 October, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2001, 12:00am

Former garment worker Chan Leung-yuk does not believe the creation of new jobs is likely to give her a break from low-paid, short-term work.

For the past three years Ms Chan, 52, has tried in vain to find stable employment, after completing a series of job training courses with the Employees' Retraining Board.

''I think the new jobs announced by the Chief Executive sound quite good but the length of employment is a bit too short,'' she said. ''I suspect they will have long working hours and will be low-paid.''

Ms Chan, who lives with her two adult sons and elderly parents in Sha Tin, trained to become a domestic helper after the factory where she worked closed. She later found a part-time job that paid $2,500 a month.

That job ended after a year when her employer hired a live-in foreign maid. Ms Chan, who did not finish primary school, could not find similar work.

She returned to the board and undertook training courses for caretakers and estate management assistants, but still could not find work.

''I went to several job interviews where the employers rejected me for being too old, even though I had the same qualifications as everyone,'' she said. ''It is age discrimination.''

Ms Chan said other jobs such as street cleaning paid so little they did not cover her travelling costs. Despite the hardship, she has refused to apply for social welfare.

Her family suffered another blow in the first half of this year when her eldest son, an IT salesman, was laid off. He has since found a new job.

''I am now feeling more depressed about life as each day passes,'' she said. ''My son's plight has made me realise the present economic recession is hitting everyone, not just those who are older and low-skilled.''