About 200 demonstrators, including union members and legislators, have called on the government to introduce a statutory minimum wage and step up efforts to protect workers. The group, which gathered at the government offices in Central yesterday, demanded action to tackle the widening income gap, inflation and discontent among the low paid. 'The wage protection movement is clearly a failure,' said lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing of the Federation of Trade Unions. 'Only about 1,100 companies have joined the voluntary campaign so far. The government should begin drafting the bill for a statutory minimum wage at once.' He said low-income families had been hit hard by the rising inflation rate and there was an urgent need to address the issue. 'We also demand the government take action against employers who leave workers unpaid and fail to make contributions to their Mandatory Provident Fund accounts,' he said. 'We hope the government can start working on the bill for a statutory minimum wage as soon as possible and delay no more.' The government's voluntary wage protection movement is aimed at ensuring minimum pay for cleaners and security guards. Earlier, the Confederation of Trade Unions held a protest demanding a statutory minimum wage of HK$30 an hour so workers could enjoy a decent quality of life. The group also urged employers to give workers pay rises of 7 per cent to 8 per cent to keep up with inflation. 'The inflation rate is so high and the impact on the low-income group is the biggest, as they spend most on food and food prices have gone up sharply recently,' said legislator Lee Cheuk-yan, general secretary of the confederation. 'There is an urgent need for the government to introduce a statutory minimum wage.' A spokesman for the Labour and Welfare Bureau said the government was concerned about labour rights. 'The government reviews labour policies, responding to changes in society and to keep pace with economic development and meet the needs of both employers and employees.'