Migrant worker dispute resolved
The Labour Advisory Board is expected to resume processing applications under a work scheme as early as today, after employee representatives agreed to end a boycott that has lasted since late October.
The representatives have been refusing to process applications from companies seeking to import workers under the Supplementary Labour Scheme (SLS).
They were angered to discover that some firms had been bypassing them and importing workers through another programme - the Immigration Department's General Employment Policy (GEP) - which, they said, lacked transparency and gave less protection to workers' rights.
The impasse was broken in a meeting yesterday morning between officials from the labour and immigration departments and employee representatives on the advisory board. The government agreed to tighten vetting procedures, closing a 'shortcut' that some companies were using to import workers.
The board, which has an equal number of members representing employers and employees, advises the labour commissioner on policy and regularly assesses and approves applications under the SLS.
About half the people imported under the SLS scheme work in care homes for the elderly and disabled.
After yesterday's meeting, both sides implied the impasse was over.
Employee representative Leung Chau-ting said the government's response to the talks suggested that it had accepted their suggestions to improve the transparency of the SLS system.
'If the two bureaus agree to our demands, then we'll resume reviewing applications again,' Leung said.
A government spokesman said the labour representatives had accepted its proposals and agreed to resume processing applications.
The immigration and labour departments would consult each other over applications that may overlap their jurisdictions, involve low wages or a large number of workers, he said.
The number of job categories, such as driver, waiter and sales, that are excluded under the Supplementary Labour Scheme