Unions seek 6pc pay rise for airport workers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 December, 2007, 12:00am

Union representatives have called for a 6 per cent pay rise next year for airport workers after poll results released yesterday showed most staff may consider changing jobs due to low wages and long commutes.

Of the 655 workers surveyed via questionnaires or phone interviews, 57 per cent said they were dissatisfied with their work and may change jobs.

What upset the workers most was the salary, with 65 per cent complaining that their present wages were too low, despite the heavier workloads they face.

The Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions and the Airport Air Freight Employee's Association jointly conducted the survey from December 5 to 15.

The federation's vice-supervisor, Chau Siu-chung, said the findings reflected the low motivation and poor morale among workers due to the unreasonable pay they received.

'The workers face heavier workloads due to the picking up of cargo volume, passengers and freight services. The employers should adjust their pay and share the fruit of the profits with their employees,' he said.

With the revival in the employment market and the booming economy, Mr Chau feared there may be a high turnover rate in the sector next year.

One veteran airport worker, who refuels aircraft, said he was underpaid despite his 10 years' experience. He is now earning HK$11,000 a month for working eight to nine hours a day.

'The pay has been frozen for seven years, but the workload is heavier. In the past, I used to refuel five to six aircraft, but it adds up to at least eight each day,' he said.

He added that there was a high turnover rate among younger colleagues. 'They find the pay unreasonable and the cost to them for changing jobs is lower. So they just quit and get another job.'

The survey also showed 33 per cent of the respondents considered 6 per cent a reasonable pay rise.

Besides the pay, transport costs and time spent commuting are also issues that upset workers.

In the survey, 54 per cent of the respondents said the commuting time was too long.

Mr Chan said long commutes could badly affect a worker's health.

The poll found 53 per cent spend more than three hours commuting each day, and 31 per cent have less than five hours of sleep per day.

He suggested that the companies provide shuttle buses for workers.

Long-haul blight

The proportion of airport workers dissatisfied with their jobs because of time spent commuting: 54%