Childcare centre for airport staff lauded by minister, but critic says other Hong Kong public organisations not doing enough

Labour minister Matthew Cheung Kin-chung praises Airport Authority’s move, but Labour Party chairwoman Suzanne Wu Siu-shan is unimpressed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 October, 2016, 9:17pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 October, 2016, 9:45pm

The Airport Authority will build a childcare centre for its staff at the airport, a move hailed by labour minister Matthew Cheung Kin-chung as a good example of how to increase the number of women in the workforce.

Cheung wrote on his blog on Sunday that the total workforce number in the city would plunge from 3.6 million in 2014 to 3.43 million in 2031 – an average of 10,000 workers lost each year.

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Citing the childcare facility at Hong Kong International Airport – due to open early next year – as an example, Cheung noted the importance of increasing the ratio of female workers by enhancing childcare services and fostering family-friendly employment practices.

“This is not only a considerate service to the staff, but it also draws people into the labour market,” Cheung wrote.

“It is a win-win situation. It is a foresighted breakthrough that should be followed by others.”

Cheung said the participation rate – a measure of the active portion of workers in a labour force – for women was only 50.8 per cent in 2015, compared to 68.7 per cent for men. Around two-thirds of women in the workforce were unmarried.

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The government also mulled building a childcare centre in the Sha Tin district in 2018/2019.

In response, Labour Party chairwoman Suzanne Wu Siu-shan slammed Cheung for not being aggressive enough on the issue, as there were still too little of such centres in the city.

“There is only one airport in Hong Kong anyway. Why didn’t other public organisations provide such [childcare] services?”

She added that in Taiwan, it is mandated by law that companies with more than 100 staff have to provide childcare benefits. Wu suggested for Hong Kong to consider the legislation.