The commission set up by the government to review the statutory minimum wage edged closer to supporting a new level of about HK$30 an hour, although no consensus had been reached by midnight.
The 13-member Minimum Wage Commission met at 6pm yesterday to discuss the new level. It is understood that the commission members representing workers called for the level to go up from the present HK$28 to over HK$30 an hour. Those representing the business sector called for the level to remain at HK$28.
After a heated debate, the two sides edged closer to supporting the HK$30 level, but no consensus was reached. They are scheduled to meet again today and tomorrow.
Reports have suggested that the academics among the commission's members recently made a proposal to the commission about what the new level should be. After taking into account inflation and how much the business sector can afford, the academics suggested that the new level should be between HK$28 and HK$32 an hour.
Commission chairman Jat Sew-tong said on Sunday that he hoped the commission could come up with a new level before the end of this month, so a report could be submitted to the government by the end of next month.
Jat, a senior counsel, said that before it decided what the new level should be, the commission would consider a basket of factors such as inflation and Hong Kong's economy as a whole. He also said the commission needed to be cautious because the revised minimum wage level should not be harmful to either employers or employees, in case the city's economy worsened.
He believes that the new level can come into effect in May next year at the earliest.
The statutory minimum wage was introduced in May last year.