Union warns of worker shortage under new law
A construction union predicts there will not be enough registered workers for minor works when a new control system takes effect tomorrow, but the government says it will not be deferred and there will be no grace period.
Under the new system, workers or their companies are required to be registered with the Buildings Department before they can do minor construction work, such as erecting supports for air conditioners.
The Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union estimates there are 30,000 to 50,000 people doing such work but only 1,100 workers and 1,000 companies are registered for Class III, the category covering the smallest and most common jobs.
Meanwhile, 5,100 have applied for registration and more than 10,000 have finished the six-hour course required for registration.
Union chairman Chow Luen-kiu said it took four to five months to enrol in the course and two months to register. 'We appreciate the government's effort to ensure the quality of minor works, but it's too rushed to implement the new regulations so soon,' he said.
Unionist lawmaker Ip Wai-ming said that while some workers would lose their jobs under the rushed implementation of the law, some jobs would be left with no one to do them as there were not enough registered workers.
He suggested a grace period of at least six months until most applications were processed and the new regulations better advertised.
The Buildings Department said it had devoted additional manpower to handle the applications and was confident the new regulations would be implemented smoothly.
Chow also suggested the department speed up the process by automatically registering those with experience who have completed the course. He said workers were also worried that when they were registered with the department, some companies might take advantage of it and deem them to be self-employed.
'Then we will be stripped of our employment benefits and the insurance matters will become more complicated,' he said.