Legislators have told the government not to limit the number of workers protected by the proposed statutory minimum wage by introducing a narrow definition of cleaners and security guards. The call came after an official said it must consider whether the safety net should be confined to those who were low-skilled and earning less than the average market rate. Labour Commissioner Cherry Tse Ling Kit-ching told a Legco manpower panel meeting yesterday that more discussion was needed to clearly define cleaning workers and security guards. According to official figures, the average monthly salary for a cleaner last December was HK$5,241 and the hourly rate was HK$25.20. The average for security guards was between HK$6,643 and HK$7,115, while the hourly rate varied from HK$24.30 to HK$31.90, depending on shift work. Workers cleaning external walls and those working in confined spaces such as water tanks and tunnels are paid much more than the average market rate adopted by the wage protection movement. Union legislators accused the government of trying to overcomplicate the preparatory work with technical issues. 'We want to have a universal statutory minimum wage, but the government limits this to two industries,' Chan Yuen-han said. 'We don't like it but we accept it, and now it seems the government is trying to screen out more workers by introducing a narrow definition of cleaners and security guards who should be protected. 'We will be furious if the government attempts to delay preparatory work by making it complicated to define these two types of workers. Why do we have to set the definition so rigid and divide cleaners in groups by their skill levels? We simply just want to protect the low-income ones.' Lee Cheuk-yan said the definition should be as broad as possible to cover more low-income workers. 'We aim to protect the low-income group and in fact we should extend the coverage to low-income workers in other sectors. We should include cleaners of all kinds, including those who clean patients, hair and vegetables.' Mrs Tse said it was necessary to be detailed and exact. 'Preparatory work is important for drafting the proposed law and we must be very detailed and accurate,' she said. 'We have to define clearly who we want to protect.' She said the Labour Advisory Board would determine criteria for measuring effectiveness of the wage protection campaign next month.