Labour Unions: Government Fails to Reach out to Elderly Home Workers
- The Young Reporter
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 …
Bus Drivers Forced To Work Overtime
- The Young Reporter
The Federation of Bus Industry Trade Union is calling for shorter working hours and higher salaries for Hong Kong bus drivers, after a fatal bus accident killed three people in Sham Shui Po last week. Lau Kai-him, officer of the Union, said that bus companies have an unhealthy pay structure that forces bus drivers to work overtime. Hong Kong has five franchised bus companies, including Citybus, which was involved in the recent accident, and numerous minibuses and other non-franchised buses. Chu, a Citybus driver who didn't want to reveal his full name, said he works 10 to 12 hours a day, depending on the route he is assigned. He calls this a disguised form of compulsory overtime. "You need to do it when the company assigned it to you," Chu said. Lau also said the drivers don't make enough money without working overtime, another reason for longer working hours. The basic salary for a bus driver starts from around $12,000 for new drivers up to around $15,000 for drivers with good records, including no customer complaints, Chu said. Nowadays more and more passengers like to complain, Chu said. But bus companies advertise a salary of $19,000 to attract new drivers; however, this includes overtime, Lau said. Bus companies need to hire more drivers to reduce the need for overtime, he added. Lau is saying bus companies are having a hard time attracting new blood. "If we only decrease the working hours without raising the salary, the problem cannot be solved," Lau said. "Our bus company has never forced the drivers to work overtime. If the drivers think their working hours are too long, they can ask for a switch," said Wong Ka-lok, Director of Citybus Branch.