Labour Unions: Government Fails to Reach out to Elderly Home Workers

The government will consider importing labour to elderly care units and provide additional resources to increase wages for care workers, said Carrie Lam as she introduce her first Policy Address this afternoon.

Hong Kong's aging problem is escalating as reflected by the projected growth of elderly population from 16.6% in 2016 to 31.1% in 2036, according to the Census and Statistics Department.

Due to the acute shortage of workforce lies in the local elderly-care sector, the city has been employing non-local care workers to cater the needs in self-financing elderly care homes.

Now that the government calls for labour importation to its subsidised care homes, some labour unions criticised the government of lacking long-term consideration, attributing the issue to low salary and long working hour of care workers.

Poon Wai-yin, chairman of Hospitals, Clinics and Nursing Workers Union, said that increase in wage alone is not enough to tackle the issue. "The government cannot force the employers to increase the wage of care workers. There is no legal binding except for the minimum wage," Poon emphasised

The Union demands an eight-to-nine-hour long standard working time. Care workers now could work up to 11 hours per day with a basic salary of $9,800 and a ceiling of $13,000, according to Poon.

Tsang Kei-nam, Organizing Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, is concerned about the qualification of foreign care workers, which is hard for the labour department to verify if their overseas training can provide sufficient techniques  for caring work in Hong Kong.

Yet, Chan Chun-wing, a senior nurse from Yan Chai Hospital Lee Wai Siu Kee Elderly Home stated that "it will not be a problem to have foreign or mainland care assistants as long as they have qualifications,"

Labor Union argues that the shortage of manpower in the sector has made care workers overwhelmed by heavy workload.

In the elderly home Chan works at, only nine full-time and about 16 part-time assistants are employed to care for 114 elderly. Each assistant needs to help more than 10 elderly to take showers every morning.

Chan said the situation is even worse in other private elderly homes.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.

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