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Hong Kong economy

Hong Kong trade union group calls for 6 per cent pay rise amid increase in projected economic growth

The Confederation of Trade Unions says previous recommendations were modest and unfavourable to workers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 December, 2017, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 December, 2017, 9:05pm

The second-largest workers’ union in Hong Kong on Sunday called for a salary increase of at least 6 per cent across all industries, in line with the government’s economic growth forecast being raised to 3.7 per cent.

The Confederation of Trade Unions said its proposed pay rise for 2018 was based on the revised official growth expectation, which was higher than the initial 2.5 per cent. This was also beyond the 2.2 per cent projected growth of the Consumer Price Index, a gauge for living costs.

Carol Ng Man-yee, chairwoman of the confederation, which comprises 95 trade unions covering about 190,000 employees, said the salary increase of 3.5 per cent suggested by the Institute of Human Resource Management in November was too low.

“They didn’t take into account inflation rates, and instead offered a number that would please most employers,” Ng said.

The confederation also found that local enterprises had been enjoying modest to remarkable revenue growth as markets picked up.

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Among the examples it listed were real estate conglomerate Sun Hung Kai Properties, which reported an annual profit of HK$41.78 billion in June, marking a year-on-year growth of 27.9 per cent, while rail giant MTR Corporation earned HK$7.48 billion in the first half of this year, 46.1 per cent higher than the same period in 2016.

The confederation said the government’s business prospect survey conducted in the fourth quarter showed that all 12 selected trades held a positive outlook for the future, with IT, banking, insurance and real estate being the most optimistic.

Meanwhile, bus drivers working for Citybus, KMB and New World First Bus, called for their basic salaries to be raised by counting variable components.

Citybus and the New World First Bus are both subsidiaries of NWS Holdings Limited.

Hui Hon-kit, president of Citybus Employees Union, said that out of the average monthly income of HK$14,569 for drivers, about HK$2,000 to HK$3,000 was based on service quality, attendance and safety records, as well as their professional qualifications.

“These components are not considered part of the basic salary, which is the subject of our wage negotiation,” Hui said.

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Leung Kam-keung, vice-chairman of the New World First Bus Staff Union, said their company had never touched on increasing similar components for almost two decades until last year when the union broached the subject in talks.

Earlier this year, Citybus and New World First Bus drivers agreed on an annual salary increase of 3.55 per cent for 2017. Drivers of KMB agreed on 3.8 per cent.

Lee Cheuk-yan, secretary general of the confederation, criticised the government’s decision to abolish the ordinance for collective bargaining after Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

“Bargaining is difficult because employers in Hong Kong have no legal duty to join the negotiations and are free to neglect any request raised by employees,” Lee said.