A union is calling for a statutory minimum wage to protect catering workers who they say make less money than cleaners and security guards. More than 30 workers from the Catering and Hotel Industries Employees General Union rallied outside the government offices in Central yesterday to demand a minimum wage of no less than HK$33 an hour. Confederation of Trade Unions organising secretary Juo So-in said: 'Many workers in the food industry suffer and can hardly make ends meet.' According to a union survey the average wage for workers in fast-food restaurants is HK$18.40 an hour. Workers for contract caterers at university canteens get HK$23.57 an hour, and those with contract caterers in public hospital canteens make HK$22.90 an hour. The catering union said that of the 200,000 workers in the trade, 80,000 earned less than HK$30 per hour. Under the government's two-year voluntary wage-protection movement for cleaners and guards, employers are asked to pay them no less than the median wage. Average pay for general cleaners is HK$25.40 and HK$27.90 for security guards. Ms Juo said: 'The government must protect these workers from exploitation. They are being hit hard by inflation. The government is very myopic if it only sets a minimum wage for cleaners and security guards. Other than these three industries, many workers from different sectors also earn very little.' Federation of Hong Kong Industries deputy chairman Stanley Lau Chin-ho said employers opposed a minimum wage through legislation but said they should be urged and educated to pay reasonable amounts. Mr Lau, who is also an employer representative on the Labour Advisory Board, agreed that if there was a statutory minimum wage, it should include all jobs instead of targeting security guards and cleaners. 'If we just focus on one or two job types, other people may protest and we might need to have 10 or 20 minimum wages for different sectors.' The government will announce the results of its voluntary wage-protection movement this month and decide if there is a need for a statutory minimum wage.