Paying the minimum wage bill

Worker representative suggests a 5 per cent increase in the minimum wage for staff hired for building management tasks, with consumers likely to foot the bill

Tenants are footing the bill of the changes brought about by the implementation of a minimum wage for building management services personnel, according to a committee.
Since the implementation of the minimum wage in 2016, there had been an “average increase of 20 per cent in condominium fees,” according to information provided by the Secretary General of the Standing Committee for the Co-ordination of Social Affairs (CPCS), Ng Wai Han, on the sidelines of a closed door meeting held yesterday between representatives of employers and employees in the MSAR.
The CPCS meeting was held in order to discuss the minimum wage for cleaning and security workers employed in building maintenance services and the ensuing impact on consumers, as well as the revision of an attendant report conducted by the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL).
Speaking as representative for workers, Leong Sun Iok said there was no agreement reached on raising the minimum wage – currently set at MOP30 per hour – adding that he believes that “such an amount is still below expectations because the type of work involved is strenuous.”
“We believe the amount has to be increased because these people need to improve their quality of life,” he said.
Replying to questions from the press, Leong claimed that worker consensus was that the minimum wage should be increased by at least 5 per cent, which would raise the minimum hourly pay to MOP31.50.
He added that this would still be a “low amount” but argued that he understands there are other criteria to be considered before moving ahead with the proposal, such as inflation.
No targeted date for a discussion on the matter was revealed during the press conference although Mr. Leong recalled that the minimum wage law stipulates a mechanism for the revision of the amount and conditions of the minimum wage and that this should be pursued annually.
As for the establishment of a universal minimum wage, he said the topic was not tabled yesterday.
Meanwhile, Wong Chi Hong, the Director of DSAL and Co-ordinator of the CPCS Executive Commission, confirmed that there had been an increase in the number of workers who saw their income increase following the implementation of regulations on the minimum wage, although he added he could not provide the exact figure.

Inconclusive talks
Overall, all parties that spoke to the press were adamant in claiming that they could not disclose the content of the discussion held behind doors, only advancing that there was an agreement on the need for additional information on behalf of the government as well as further studies on the matter.
The representative of the employers, António Chui Yuk Lam, stated they “need more data to study and analyse” the agenda discussed during the meeting, and to summarise the position conveyed yesterday by all parties.
The additional information referred to by representatives and authorities during the press conference refers to a survey that was previously conducted by the government with public services, cleaning and security companies alike, involved in building management services.
In tandem, Chui claimed they “are going to submit a report with new opinions after the government sends them the new data that [they] requested.”
It was also said a few times during the press conference that the government pledged to send the additional information to the parties within ten days.
Repeated questions by the media about the nature of the data requested of the government by both employers and employees’ representatives went unanswered.
The Secretary for the Economy, Lionel Leong Vai Tak, left the premises immediately after the meeting.