What can you buy with the new HK$34.50 minimum wage?

Our reporter finds out how the increased hourly rate, which took effect on Monday, stacks up against the cost of common daily items

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 May, 2017, 3:09pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 May, 2017, 10:42pm

The new minimum hourly wage of HK$34.50 took effect on Monday. It is an increase of HK$2 from the level set two years ago. The change is meant to benefit ordinary workers, but what can someone buy with HK$34.50?

Labour union leaders say rising living costs in recent years have eroded the small wage increases, and the adjustment has failed to benefit workers.

“The pay rise must be higher to reflect the growing needs of workers,” Ho Kai-ming, a lawmaker representing the Federation of Trade Unions said on Monday.

Lee Kwok-suen, a waiter and vice-chairman of the Catering and Hotels Industries Employees General Union, said many workers at fast food chains and small cha chaan teng were paid the minimum wage.

Most were older people with relatively low working abilities, he said.

“At the current minimum rate, some are forced to work 12 to 13 hours a day in order to feed their families,” Lee said.

“We believe the wage should be HK$40 per hour, which is not a lot to ask for,” he said. “If these people work 10 hours a day, at least they can have some family time. This is a human right.”

Some labour unions said the minimum wage should be revised once a year instead of once every two years.

A government spokesman said that since the introduction of the minimum wage in 2011, the employment market had remained “broadly stable and the earnings of low-income workers have continued to improve.”

The Post visited popular supermarkets, retailers and restaurants to see how the HK$34.50 hourly wage stacks up against the cost of daily items. Most of the daily necessities cost more than HK$34.50.

1. A single MTR trip from Hung Hom to Lo Wu – HK$38.10

2. Two choices of roasted meat with rice at local fast food chain Fairwood – HK$38

3. A grande (medium) caffè latte at Starbucks – HK$38

4. A bun with pork chop at Tsui Wah cha chaan teng – HK$42

5. A Fuji apple at ParknShop – HK$4.50

6. A bag of Thai rice (8kg) – HK$49.90

7. A pack of Castle laundry detergent (4.6kg) – HK$37.90

8. A pack of Virjoy jumbo toilet rolls (10 pieces) – HK$35.90

9. A box of Durex condoms (20 pieces) – HK$122.90

10. A pack of Merries diapers (60 pieces) – HK$110