Sunday, November 28, 2010

Labor report on labor in Hong Kong

Hong Kong took “a “significant step forward” in July by adopting its first minimum wage legislation, but the hourly rate of US$3.60, set in November, “is still insufficient to cover basic living costs.”

So says the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in a report on core labor standards in Hong Kong that the ITUC, at its own initiative, prepared, for the World Trade Organization’s General Council review of trade policies. Hong Kong, a founding member of the World Trade Organization, lost its independent status when sovereignty was transferred to the People’s Republic of China in 1997.

Here is how the ITUC summarizes the current status of fundamental worker rights in the former British colony:

" Hong Kong law allows workers to join unions, but provides little protection for those who do. The government refuses to bargain collectively with its own employees or to create a legal framework for collective bargaining in the private sector. In practice, employers have wide latitude to dismiss striking workers."

Although about 21 percent of the city-region’s wage workers are unionized, less than one percent are covered by collective bargaining agreements, and these are not legally binding, according to the ITUC’s report.

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