Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 November, 2010, 12:00am

Social harmony begins and ends with profits

Really? Cafe de Coral really cares about social harmony? That's why it reversed its decision to rob its staff of paid meal breaks? Now, what's the word Public Eye is looking for? Oh, yes, bullpoop. Cafe de Coral cares about social harmony as much as the property tycoons care about honesty when selling you a flat. The fast-food chain cares about just one thing - profits. Company boss Michael Chan Yue-kwong made that perfectly clear when he opposed a decent minimum wage, saying it would hurt his profits. He made that clear again just two days ago when he admitted he had thought only about profits and not the political fallout when he cancelled paid meal breaks for his staff. Cafe de Coral made half a billion dollars in net profit last year. But that's not enough for it to share the wealth with its workers. So what social harmony is Chan talking about? Where's the social harmony when Cafe de Coral pays its staff just about HK$5,000 a month, with some earning even less than that? Maybe we should ask cleaner Mrs Lau, 62, if her boss cares more about social harmony than profits. Cafe de Coral has been paying her just HK$22 an hour for the past 17 years. That's HK$4,576 a month for eight hours a day, six days a week, 26 days a month. You generate social harmony by treating your staff as human beings, not as slaves. Cafe de Coral backed down on cutting paid meal breaks for one reason alone - it was afraid a threatened boycott of its restaurants by trade unions would eat into its profits and further hurt its image. Money motivated the backdown. Social harmony had nothing to do with it.

Minister must be in cloud cuckoo land

One person duped by this social harmony bull was labour minister Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, who applauded Cafe de Coral for being mindful of the well-being of workers. He thinks the fast-food chain has done the right thing to promote harmonious labour relations. Cafe de Coral mindful of the well-being of workers? Get real, Mr Cheung. If it cared about its workers it wouldn't have forced them to surrender their paid meal breaks in return for a stingy pay rise. Maybe the labour minister has been in cloud cuckoo land for too long. He's not thinking straight.

No wonder anti-business feeling is on the rise

What were they thinking? Why did Cafe de Coral do it? Why did it give a stingy pay rise, and then take it away by cutting paid meal breaks? It probably thought it could get away with it. And the business community wonders why there's suddenly such an angry anti-business sentiment. Cafe de Coral is the reason why. But it's not just them. It's McDonalds, KFC, 7-Eleven and all the others that pay disgraceful wages. It's also the employer groups that suggest pay rises of a measly 3 per cent for staff when corporate profits are skyrocketing. And let's not forget the property developers. It's all of them. They just don't get it. They just don't understand the people don't want to be hoodwinked anymore. Will they ever get it?

32 years and the harbour still stinks

Are they nuts or something? The Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association wants to revive the annual cross-harbour race. The poop must surely have gone to their heads. Have they smelt the harbour lately? Public Eye has. It smells like a sewer. Don't believe us? Just walk along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. You wouldn't stick your face into a toilet bowl, would you? So why would you want to race in our harbour? But go ahead, jump into the harbour if you want to. And when you end up in hospital with your body full of deadly germs, think about this: the annual race was stopped way back in 1978 when the water got too dirty. That was 32 years ago. Why hasn't the government cleaned up the harbour yet? Something stinks.