HK lawmakers call for rise in minimum wage

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 3:27am

More than half of directly elected lawmakers, including some from a Beijing loyalist party, have called for the minimum wage to be raised from HK$28 an hour to at least HK$33.

The People's Alliance for Minimum Wage recently asked the 40 directly elected lawmakers to state their stance on reviewing the salary floor, which was introduced in May last year. Twenty-four supported an increase to at least HK$33 an hour.

A higher wage floor - HK$35 an hour - is being sought by five pan-democratic parties, including People Power and the Labour Party, as well as the pro-government Federation of Trade Unions.

Two other pan-democratic parties, the Democratic Party and the Civic Party, support the HK$33 an hour figure.

The wage alliance said another Beijing loyalist party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, did not make its stance clear. The DAB, with 10 directly elected lawmakers, said only that it respected the minimum wage mechanism.

The Minimum Wage Commission is due to submit a report on a review of the salary floor to the government by the end of next month.

Lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung of the Neighbourhood and Workers' Service Centre said it was difficult for workers earning only HK$28 an hour to enjoy a basic life, as a lunch box cost more than HK$30.

"If the workers cannot even feed themselves well, where do they get the energy they need to work?" Leung asked.

After the commission submits its report, the government will then table it to the Legislative Council. But lawmakers can only choose to accept or reject it - revising the wage floor again is not an option.

Meanwhile, a source with knowledge of the commission's closed-door meetings said reports suggesting that a revised wage of HK$28.50 or HK$29.50 an hour had been recommended were misleading.

The source said the commission was still looking at the possibility of many other figures and nothing had been confirmed yet.