Survey sees half of private cleaners, security staff to be paid average market rate The wage protection movement should be considered successful if at least half of the 160,000 cleaners and security workers in the private sector are paid the average market rate, respondents to the SCMP/TNS survey say. Half the 400 opinion leaders and decision-makers polled said the movement's success should be gauged by the percentage of workers who are paid above the average market rate for the two categories. Of these, 44 per cent said it would be a success if 50 to 70 per cent of the workers were paid the average market wage, while 50 per cent said it should cover at least 70 per cent of the workers. In January, the Labour Advisory Board is due to discuss the benchmark for the movement's success. The benchmark issue is expected to spark heated argument between labour and employer representatives because it will determine whether there will be a minimum wage law after two years. The Census and Statistics Department is due to complete a study on the salary level of cleaners and security guards in the private sector in February. Employer representatives Paul Yin Tek-shing from the Chinese Manufacturers' Association and Louis Pong Wai-yan from the Employers' Federation, said 70 per cent was a reasonable benchmark. Another employer representative, Stanley Lau Chin-ho from the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, said it might not be a realistic goal. 'I think 50 per cent is good enough for the first stage of the movement,' he said. 'Sometimes success may be gauged not only by statistics, but also by less tangible things such as heightened social awareness.' Labour representative Ip Wai-ming, from the Federation of Trade Unions, said the unions believed the movement could be called a success only if all cleaners and security guards were paid the minimum wage. Mr Lau said that would only squeeze the less competitive, such as the elderly and the disabled, out of the job market. 'Employers, especially small firms, can of course afford to pay an extra few hundred dollars, but then they would not be willing to hire the same old cleaner who used to come at a cheaper price,' he said. 'Market forces are unbeatable.' Thirty-one per cent of respondents said the movement's success also should be gauged by the number of jobs available - whether demand has slipped although the actual wage might have increased. Just under half said success could be marked by a rise in the average market rates for security guards and cleaners. When asked who should bear most responsibility for administering the movement, 59 per cent said it should be the government, while labour unions should have the least responsibility. Respondents also ranked active monitoring as the best way to track non-compliance, while public reporting of non-complying employers was ranked the least effective. The Labour Department said it was always watching for employers who breached written employment contracts, but a spokeswoman also said the government would continue to rely on workers and unionists to report wrongdoings.