Call for clarity on construction workers' wages

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 November, 2013, 4:44am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 November, 2013, 4:44am

Construction industry organisations have called on contractors to spell out workers' wages in black and white to ensure fairness in disputes.

They say it is time to end a practice in which only part of a worker's salary is included in the employment contract and the rest is by verbal agreement.

"Everything should be written down because the chance of conflict is high if pay is agreed verbally," Construction Industry Council chairman Lee Shing-see said.

Construction pay can comprise the basic wage and piecework pay - based on the number of tasks completed - or a combination of the two. In the latter case, the basic wage is spelled out in the employment contract but some contractors do not include piecework pay in the contract because it is hard to calculate.

The council introduced a specimen contract in 2010 and is urging all contractors to adopt it. Its call was joined at a press conference yesterday by the Construction Association and the Construction Industry Employees' General Union.

Lee said a growing number of contractors were using the specimen but could not give details.

Union chairman Chow Luen-kiu said many companies working on government contracts had adopted the specimen, but it remained unpopular for private projects.

Depending on the type of the work, Chow said, the amount of pay verbally agreed could be half of a worker's salary.

He said that since the council's specimen was introduced, the union had been more successful in getting the contractors to pay workers in disputes.

Association secretary general Thomas Tse Che-wah also urged contractors to put the full amount of pay in black and white to avoid disputes.

Last week, 40 workers went on strike at the site of Lohas Park Phase Three, saying they had not been paid since September.