Leung Chun-ying

Parties tell Leung Chun-ying bigger minimum-wage rise needed

Pressure on chief executive from across the political spectrum to increase minimum wage by more than planned HK$2 an hour

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 9:17am

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is facing mounting pressure to raise the minimum wage level further, after the current HK$2-an-hour increase was blasted by both sides of the political camp.

Leung must now decide whether to reconsider the figure before it is put to a vote in the Legislative Council.

Beijing-loyalist and pan-democrat politicians alike said yesterday the HK$2-an-hour increase put forward was insufficient.

The Minimum Wage Commission, on which employers and workers are represented, announced on Tuesday it had reached a consensus the rate should rise from HK$28 to HK$30 an hour. The decision drew fire from workers, who said it was not enough, and employers, who said it was too much.

Labour-sector lawmakers-elect Tang Ka-piu and Kwok Wai-keung, of the Beijing-loyalist Federation of Trade Unions, want the figure raised to HK$33.

"I will try to raise awareness of this issue in Legco," said Tang, who will table a question to the legislature on whether the rate should be reviewed annually rather than every two years.

Pan-democrats, including Peter Cheung Kwok-che and the Labour Party's Lee Cheuk-yan, deemed a HK$2 increase of little help to workers. Cheung said the democrats would use "every means" to press Leung to raise it.

Once the commission submits a report to Leung next month, it will go to the Executive Council and then Legco. When the report is tabled in the legislature, lawmakers can only vote for or against it. They cannot ask the government to review the level.

"I hope the chief executive can … use his power to raise the level further before it is tabled in Legco. Otherwise it will be too late," Cheung said.

In March this year, the Census and Statistics Department released its 2011 Annual Earnings and Hours Survey, which revealed 146,600 people currently make between HK$28 and HK$30 an hour.

The property management, security and cleaning industries seems likely to be hardest hit, with 218,400 people in this field - 14.14 per cent - making HK$28 to HK$30 an hour.

Another report by the Minimum Wage Commission, released after the minimum wage law took effect in May last year, showed the HK$30 level will impose extra operating costs of HK$640.2 million a month on this industry.

Cliff Wong Kai-fang, general manager of China Overseas Property Services, said HK$2 would be a moderate increase.

The proposed HK$30 level would add HK$212.2 million a month to restaurants' costs and HK$191.8 million a month to costs for shops, according to the report.