• Thu
  • Jul 10, 2014
  • Updated: 4:14pm

Candidates opposed to regulating hours in workplace are not worth supporting

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2011, 12:00am

Eleanor Wong complains that the small voter turnout for the election of representatives for the Election Committee was because many of those entitled to vote had acted with indifference and failed to recognise the election's importance ('Dismissive approach is so negative', December 18). Nothing could be further from the truth.

Many eligible voters recognise that Hong Kong's long exploitation of low-paid unskilled labour should not be permitted to continue.

I have been associated with the catering business for 26 years and was one of those entitled to vote. I chose not to do so because out of 34 candidates I could not see even one candidate I was willing to support. If I had had the option on the voting form to tick 'none of the above', I would have surely turned out.

Seventeen candidates came from an organisation called 'cater17.org', and all of them oppose legislation controlling working hours. In my opinion, hours worked by these low-paid catering workers are barbaric and belong to Victorian times.

Many are compelled to work 12-hour shifts, six days a week, or split shifts with a break of several hours in between. This break is virtually useless because many workers have insufficient time to return home or use the break for any meaningful pursuit. Travelling expenses also prevent many from venturing far.

Even mainland legislation offers workers better protection. Their standard working week is an eight-hour shift, five days a week. Workers may work longer hours on overtime, but these additional hours are regulated.

The overtime permitted per shift is three hours, bringing the maximum working day to 11 hours. Additionally, overtime may not exceed 36 hours per month. These regulations, therefore, prohibit work times from exceeding on average 9.5 hours for a five-day week. Out of the other 17 non 'cater17.org' candidates, none chose to present their election platforms in English so at least several hundred non-Chinese-reading voters were unable to know what they stood for.

The most surprising candidate of all was a man known to us as 'Mr Lan Kwai Fong', Allan Zeman. I found it disappointing that this leading businessman, who is also chairman of Ocean Park employing thousands of workers, should openly oppose improving the welfare of Hong Kong's lowest paid by the regulation of working times.

P. A. Crush, Sha Tin

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