The economy and stock market may be surging but the lot of grass-roots workers is getting worse, a leading unionist and lawmaker said yesterday. 'With more industrial accidents, a widening gap between the rich and poor, prolonged working hours and delayed payment of wages, workers have worse living standards,' Leung Yiu-chung said. Mr Leung, who represents the Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre in the Legislative Council, held a news conference yesterday to highlight the plight of those who, he said, had failed to benefit from the city's growing prosperity. He called on the government to enact laws on maximum working hours and minimum wages, strengthen law enforcement against delayed wage payment and promote awareness about industrial accidents. Labour Department statistics show that in the first half of this year there were 22,195 industrial accidents, 8.4 per cent more than in the same period last year. The official explanation for the increase was that more people had been hired and workers lacked safety awareness, Mr Leung said. But many injured workers had told the union the real reason was that their bosses did not have enough staff, resulting in a heavy workload and long hours. This exhausted workers and raised the risk of industrial accidents. 'Workers from the catering and construction industries suffer from industrial accidents the most,' he said, 'and it's not uncommon for those working in restaurants to suffer burns.' Mr Leung's view was echoed by widower Lam Yu-pui, 58, whose wife, Ng Kam-yung died on November 8 when a truck reversed into her as she was cleaning the indoor car park of a public housing estate at Tung Chung. Mr Lam, who worked as a cleaner at the car park for HK$3,300 a month, said that eight of nine lights of the car park were turned off at the time of the accident. Ng, a cleaner earning HK$5,800 a month at a nearby wet market, was helping her husband on her day off. She was the sixth victim to have been killed by a reversing vehicle in three months.