Hong Kong security guards earning 'less than 2012' due to inflation, says union

Call to raise minimum wage, as guards find inflation has left them less well-off

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 3:29am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 4:55am

Security guards have gained little from last year's increase in the minimum wage to HK$30 an hour. That's according to a trade union which claims the average guard earns less now than they did two years ago, when inflation is taken into account.

The minimum wage should be raised to HK$35 an hour and a review of wage levels should be conducted every year instead of every two years as is the case at present, said the Hong Kong Buildings Management and Security Workers General Union.

Eight out of 10 security guards now earn HK$30.60 an hour, which represents a 7 per cent increase after a wait of two years for the minimum wage adjustment, according to the union, an affiliate of the pro-democrat Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.

But rises in inflation during the same period - 4.8 per cent in 2012 and 4.5 per cent in 2013 - have left security guards effectively earning less than they were two years ago.

In a survey of 300 security guards employed by two of the industry's major companies conducted in January and February, over 40 per cent said their income failed to meet their basic family expenses.

Ms Ho, a security guard who earns HK$7,440 a month, said travel expenses, rent, water and electricity bills accounted for more than 40 per cent of her income.

She said that because her income was slightly too high to qualify for the low wage allowance from the government, she had needed to take a part-time job as a waitress to make ends meet.

Citing research by Chinese University social work academic Professor Wong Hung in 2005, the union said that, when inflation was taken into account, the average monthly expenditure necessary for a three-member family today would be around HK$11,711.

As an average of 1.58 people from three-member families work full-time, the union said the monthly salary per person should be increased to HK$7,411, or HK$35.63 an hour, based on an employee working eight hours a day and 26 days a month.

The union said the only improvement in working conditions was that almost 80 per cent of guards surveyed were now allowed a paid lunch hour.

The union will march on Sunday from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to the government headquarters to demand the increase, overtime allowances and standard working hours.