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The MTR Corporation (its original full name was Mass Transit Railway Corporation) is listed on the Hong Kong Exchange and is a constituent of the benchmark Hang Seng Index. MTRC operates the Hong Kong underground rail system and is a major property developer and landlord in the city. It also invests in railways outside Hong Kong.

NewsHong Kong
LABOUR

Fast-track plan to hire foreign workers for construction projects after rail link delay

Government will consider directly importing labour for selected construction projects after manpower shortages hit high-speed railway

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 April, 2014, 11:40pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 April, 2014, 8:00am
 

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19 Apr 2014
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The government could directly import workers for infrastructure projects at the border, an official has revealed to the South China Morning Post.

The idea emerged after manpower shortages were given as one of the reasons behind the two-year delay to the HK$67 billion high-speed railway linking Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

If the plan goes ahead, it will mark a departure from the current process under which contractors who want to import labour have to prove to the government that the vacancies cannot be filled by local workers.

According to the official, the government would consider the possibility of applying directly to the Labour Advisory Board to import foreign workers for selected projects.

Normally, applications from contractors for the importation of foreign workers are first examined by the Labour Department before being considered by the Labour Advisory Board.

But last month the Labour Advisory Board revealed a new arrangement to simplify the process. It said any application for foreign labour could bypass the examination by the Labour Department. This could cut the average time for importing workers from the present 7-1/2 months to less than six.

If the government applies directly to the Labour Advisory Board to import the foreign workers - cutting out the application by contractors - this could reduce the processing time by even more.

"The importation will be conducted in a project-by-project approach to alleviate the impact of labour shortages on the progress of construction," said the official.

"It would be easier [to implement] as these workers would stay only at the border areas."

The official declined to say which projects would be considered. But those that would fit the requirements include the high-speed railway, the HK$83 billion Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and the HK$120 billion plan to develop new towns in the northeast New Territories.

Last September, the MTR Corp said it needed 2,000 more workers to complete the high-speed railway on time.

Fan Cheung-fung, organising secretary of the Confederation of Trade Unions, said the new suggestion might make the hiring process even faster, but felt that it would benefit only those contractors who did not want to pay good salaries and provide full benefits to local workers.

"The government has a responsibility to protect local and foreign labourers, not making it easier for contractors to exploit them," said Fan.

The Labour Advisory Board last month agreed that 26 positions - five related to railway projects - be made available for imported labour.

The board could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

 

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11

This article is now closed to comments

rvto
Maybe the need of work planners is bigger as the need for construction workers.
chhathare
HK SAR government and LAB should have to see the statistics of HK labours. 98% construction labour of HK and 100 % of tunnel labours are migrated from south east Asians such as Philippinos, Nepalese, Pakistanis, Indians and many more. In the year of 2010 alone tens of thousand dependent husbands came to Hong Kong all of them are working as tunnel labour today. Since 2011 HK Immigration tighten to less then 100 in this past three years. Thousands of husbands and wives are waiting their dependent visas to be approved since couple of years. That is the reason of severe lack of new labour in HK. In other hand HK is becoming serious human right violator.
Easy solution could be release all dependent visas which are pending since long time, that takes political tension away and Labour shortage problem will be solved at one go for long term.
johnwe
Those in Legco are the last people who have the right to complain, The delay in the HK-Macao-Zhuhai link was held up for years by stupid support for a staged non-existent private objection which delayed the start and increased cost on this side by billions of dollars.
We also had the delays over clearance of the villages on the route for the high-speed rail to Guangzhou.
And now we are having endless delays by posturing Legco members over the landfills and incinerators.
Things get done so fast and efficiently without loss of time or money in Singapore or the mainland, because of the way they are decided and funded and the people in the government - not the bureaucrats or permanent administrators but the bloodsuckers in Legco who abuse their position in the name of democracy to get a huge pay-packet and behave like ruffians and louts and are as obstreperous as they come.
ssslmcs01
Are you talking about the lawmakers who truly represent the majority of Hongkongers? The ones who aren't afraid to ask questions or to say no (vote against) what their constituents want them to vote down?
Are you saying you prefer the one party system where you can't have a say?
Although I don't agree with the some of the extreme radicalism, I am thankful that not all of our lawmakers are puppets as you want them to be.
r6b
There is no grand communist conspiracy here- just local bungling bureaucrats and politicians.
HK now has 4 major rail projects on going at the same time- of course there will be labour shortages. Legco procrastinated too long, wasting many years to agree to build rail lines/extensions, needed to reduce street congestion. An example is the South Island line. Commuters will have a 10 minute ride from Ap Lei Chau to Admiralty, instead of being "sardined" in double deckers, for up to an hour, as the Aberdeen tunnel intermittently opens and closes during peak travel times. This route should have been funded and build a decade ago.
Local leaders behaviour was functionally impotent , and this has now resulted in much higher costs, and as we hear now, major construction delays, not to mention the added pollution of the clogged traffic, engines idling, waiting to inch forward all across HK & Kowloon.
johnyuan
I am always puzzled by the very late extension of the MTR to the south side of the Hong Kong Island. But I have a hunch that the long delay is the collusion between the government and the privileged that make their resident there. They don’t want crowding around them. I would check with LKS if this was his wish. Yes, all politics are local.
ejmciii
The commissars spoke and their minions listened. No question about impact on HK, only on the Masters' marquee project to highlight complete control over HK. Interesting how fast the minions can jump when the masters send the message and how slowly when the people the minions are supposed to serve note their displeasure with policy.
johnyuan
The importing of construction workers from mainland is a timely maneuvering since mainland may have a surplus of them in the down turn in construction activities there. For Hong Kong, the added labors among all other type has the least impact in using up existing housing since they mostly live on the job site. That is, unlike housing must be found for imported shop keepers, restaurant workers and entertainment workers for the tourism industry.
.
But the government must protect the local construction workers by an adverse income competition from the imported workers. The best way to do so is that make rule in paying the imported workers at least the same scale as locals. Without such rule, it is just fast tracking the further shortage of local construction workers.
caractacus
Again, the Government uses scare tactics in order to justify the capitalists' wish for cheap labour.
Who really runs HK?
ejmciii
Sorry but it is hardly what the capitalists want. It is what the Communists demand. The Communists drive the bus, my friend. And they want to make clear to the world that HK is completely under their control.

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