The University of Science and Technology (HKUST) is being urged to review the salaries of its campus security guards, after a union survey found they were paid just above Hong Kong’s statutory minimum wage.
The survey was conducted in two stages in November last year and earlier this month by the Hong Kong Buildings Management and Security Workers General Union, a member body of the Confederation of Trade Unions. A total of about 150 security guards across the eight publicly-funded tertiary education institutions were interviewed.
It found most universities had contracted out their security services. Those working at the HKUST were paid the lowest wage among the eight schools, with an hourly rate of HK$31.04. The current statutory minimum wage is HK$30.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), which directly employs all of its security staff, offered the highest across-the-board hourly wage of HK$36.42, according to the union. This was followed by the HK$35.48 at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), which hires some security staff directly and some through contractors. Those working at the City University (CityU) were paid at either HK$33 or HK$36.78 depending on their working hours.
The union blamed the practice of contracting out as a possible reason for low pay. It urged HKUST, which is inviting tenders for security service as its contract with the current company is expiring in June, to ensure the next contractor offers better terms to staff.
“We hope the HKUST will make use of this chance to review the work it has contracted out ... It is offering the lowest wages among eight universities. What’s more, security guards there do not enjoy genuine meal hours as they are required to stand by even during so-called meal breaks,” said unionist So Pak-yin, who carried out the study.
The union also asked all universities to ensure their security guards were paid not less than HK$35 per hour, which it considered the minimum level reasonable to sustain living.
A spokeswoman for the HKUST said the pay level of staff would be an important factor of consideration in the tender exercise. She did not comment on the union’s demand for an hourly wage of HK$35.