Federation softens its approach to voluntary code The tug of war over a minimum wage law appeared to take a new twist yesterday as a government-friendly labour union said it would not oppose a non-binding charter. With the policy speech just two days away, Federation of Trade Unions legislator Chan Yuen-han said she was prepared to reconsider her position as long as a clear timetable for eventual legislation could be provided. The largest trade union has been pushing for a minimum wage law, saying the proposal put forward by business groups for a voluntary charter would not work. 'If there is a clear legislative timetable, I would reconsider. The tug of war has been going on for so long. It would be a breakthrough,' she said. Union president Cheng Yiu-tong, who is a member of Mr Tsang's cabinet, said legislation could be implemented if the non-binding charter proved ineffective. The executive councillor's remarks fuelled speculation that Mr Tsang may opt for the charter approach in his policy speech, without ruling out a legislative timetable. Mr Cheng said employers and workers remained sharply divided over a minimum wage law. 'If the charter is found to be not working, then the government should give a clear timetable on legislation. The government is making a compromise. It can balance the interests of both sides [workers and bosses].' The government passed the Trade Boards Ordinance in the 1940s, enabling Hong Kong's leader to impose a minimum wage. But the power has never been invoked. Ms Chan reiterated that if the policy address failed to show clear commitment to a minimum wage law, she would not rule out seeking a judicial review in her individual capacity. Confederation of Trade Unions legislator Lee Cheuk-yan said the FTU appeared to have softened its position. 'It is possible the policy address will opt for a charter, without closing the door to future legislation. But I am just worried that Mr Tsang is adopting delaying tactics.' Meanwhile, a middle-class advocacy group yesterday called for measures to reduce the wealth gap. Middle Class Force urged Mr Tsang in his policy address on Wednesday to abandon the proposed goods and services tax. The appeal followed a survey of 520 sandwich class people which found that 56 per cent were most concerned about reducing poverty and the wealth gap and 55 per cent opposed the GST.