End in sight for trainees' pay dispute

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 12:00am

A dispute between more than 140 aircraft maintenance trainees and Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Co (Haeco) over wages has been partly resolved, with the workers agreeing to resume training.

'The parties wish and have showed sincerity in solving the dispute,' said lawmaker Ip Wai-ming, a representative of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, who is helping the trainees.

His comment came after Taikoo (Xiamen) Aircraft Engineering Co (Taeco), a mainland subsidiary, which sent 142 trainees to Haeco, said it would resume a two-year programme which was suspended on Sunday because of the dispute.

'The trainees have been promised that they will receive salaries for the last two days,' Ip said after meeting representatives from Swire Pacific, the majority owner of Haeco.

'They also want to continue their training with Haeco.'

He and dozens of trainees went to Swire Pacific's office in Pacific Place to demand talks yesterday.

Ip said the trainees decided to resume their programme and selected nine representatives to negotiate with Haeco and Taeco for better remuneration and working hours.

'We hope we can negotiate a better salary and benefits, and that the trainees will work no more than eight hours a day,' Ip said.

The dispute, which broke out on Saturday, involved accusations that the mainland trainees were being used as cheap labour and were being asked to work overtime without extra pay. But the company denied exploiting the trainees and said that they enjoyed annual leave, statutory holidays and compensation leave.

It issued a statement yesterday saying that after meeting some trainees on Monday, both the company and the trainees believed the dispute was due to a 'misunderstanding'.