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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 2:08am
NewsHong Kong

Chamber calls for review of labour imports amid manpower shortage

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 5:13am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 4:49pm

An influential business group has joined calls for a review of labour import rules, claiming it would be difficult to fill a manpower shortage while relying only on local workers.

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce said it was time to discuss whether criteria for companies in some industries applying to bring in workers under the Supplementary Labour Scheme should be loosened. It cited construction and care homes for the elderly as sectors facing imminent manpower shortages.

"There also needs to be a review of why about 20 jobs were excluded from the scheme. Do the grounds still stand now?" asked Shirley Yuen, the chamber's chief executive.

Yuen's remarks came the day after representatives from three industries told the South China Morning Post that Hong Kong's labour shortage would be far more severe than official projections suggested. Unions argue that importing workers will depress wages and reduce opportunities for local workers.

Introduced in 1996, the Supplementary Labour Scheme allows employers to hire foreign workers at the level of technician or below if they are unable to recruit suitable workers locally after advertising for four weeks. Waiters and shop assistants are among 26 roles excluded.

Yuen said just 2,500 people were now working under the scheme, while the private sector had a shortfall of 77,900 staff.

"The number of vacancies in construction has jumped by about 70 per cent. Whether the scheme is effective in supplying Hong Kong with the manpower it needs is clear," she said.

"The unions say we should protect local workers by not importing workers. But are we really protecting them when we do not do so? If we don't do so, will we even lose the whole industry?"

Commissioner for Labour Cheuk Wing-hing has said importation should only be allowed if it did not affect local job seekers.

Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said while the chamber appeared to be criticising the government, it was in fact conspiring with it to drum up support for labour imports.

Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Tang Ka-piu said the government had offered too many associate degree programmes, leaving many graduates with similar qualifications scrambling for limited jobs.



This article is now closed to comments

Is this a back-door for mainland immigration - designed to thin out the wrong headed thinking of Hong Kong citizens who are considered not to be team players?
There is no shortage of labour, only a shortage of CHEAP labour.
The solution is what happens in any shortage, increase the price and give the low paid a decent wage. It will be passed on to the consumer in any event.
What qualifications does it take to become exec of the HK CHAMBER of Commerce? oral proficiency?
They are answering the wrong question. Construction and Hospice companies don't NEED to be guaranteed a sizable profit by being able to hire low wage workers for **** jobs. Maybe construction and hospice care industries should pay workers more so that some hard working people will be rewarded for their, errh, hard work. Lacking a 1st rate education, someone should be able to find a job which, while not desirable, rewards them enough to give them a decent living and a chance for the next generation to climb up. NYC garbage man, for example. The answer of having to import even more people into HK to work for less only applies if we rule out uncertain profits for weaker, poorly run companies with greedy owners who believe they are entitled to large incomes. If we shoot them and their cronies in government, then a free market will be allowed to exist within HK without having to add to the overcrowding and housing problems already stretching infrastructure to the max. Where will we house the imported workers and which subways will they take to get to work?
Here, here dynamco!!
She says there needs to be a review of why 20 jobs were excluded from the scheme. Fair enough but shouldnt she first show some stats to back up her call for the review?
I'm sure those 77,900 so-called vacancies could be greatly reduced if the affected employers doubled the wage rate.
"Shirley Yuen took up the post of CEO of the Hong Kong General Chamber of
Commerce on 8 August, 2011. Prior to this position, she was Deputy Secretary in
the Transport and Housing Bureau, in charge of public transport policy between
2008-2010. Miss Yuen had worked in the Hong Kong Government for 20 years prior to joining
the Chamber."
aah so - a highly qualified experienced 'business person' having solved HKG's transport problems (not) is now CEO of a business self interest body which states
'Local labour is too expensive so let's import some oiks so we can make more profit, find a chicken farm building somewhere to house at least 25 of them so it reminds them of home'
.... her Chamber predecessor is where now ?
‘Yuen said just 2,500 people were now working under the scheme, while the private sector had a shortfall of 77,900 staff.’
If there is truly a shortfall of 77,900 staff, Hong Kong would have been paralyzed. That 77,900 is perhaps what potential positions more could be have to expand business whose owners are the member of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. It doesn’t take much to represent the Chamber to do the pitching – when in commerce just talk commerce. What social consequences?
It is the duty for the government and legislator to go beyond the commerce talk. See the ‘labor shortage’ within the political context. How opportunities must be preserved and shared locally in Hong Kong?
The nastiest part politically is we must all know how CY Leung is to house these 77,900?


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