Good news, bad news

Pay has gone up year-on-year for people working in the manufacturing industry and also in hotels, restaurants, financial services, and the water, electricity and gas sectors. Official data from the Bureau of Statistics and Censuses (DSEC) just released under the ‘Labour and Wages Needs Survey’ for the first quarter of 2010 revealed the increases, but also showed a drop in the numbers employed in the manufacturing and clothing sectors. At the end of the first quarter of the year, 15,203 people were employed in manufacturing, a significant decrease – 22.7 percent – on the first quarter of 2009. The number of workers hired by the clothing industry totalled 7.679, a fall of 35.6 percent. In March 2010 the average pay for full-time employees – excluding bonuses and dividends – was MOP5,780, which represents an increase of 11.2 percent over the same months in 2009. Sewing machine operators earned an average salary of MOP3,480. Hotels and restaurants employed 48,287 people, an increase of 4.2 percent. Of those, 31,483 workers were employed in hotels or similar establishments. In March, the average pay for full-time workers in the sector amounted to MOP9,970 translating to an increase of 1.3 percent. Hotel rooms cleaning staff were paid an average salary of MOP6,080. Financial services relied on 5,507 employees, of which 4,630 were in banking. Compared to the same period of 2009, the number of paid employees in this industry decreased slightly, by 0.8 percent. Up to March this year, the average salary of full-time workers in this sector amounted to MOP18,550, up 5.6 percent compared to same month of 2009. Bank cashiers earned an average salary of MOP10,760. The production and distribution of electricity, gas and water employed 1,057 people, a slight increase – 0.4 percent – compared to the same period last year. The remuneration of full-time employees in March 2010 reached MOP22,230, marking an increase of 1.3 percent over the same month last year. At the end of March 2010 there were 1,457 vacancies in the manufacturing business, while the number of job vacancies in hotels and restaurants was 3,696. There were also 214 places to be filled in the financial services sector and 23 in the production and distribution of electricity, gas and water. Imported labour pains Director of the Human Resources Office (GRH), Wong Chi Hong, says that reducing the number of foreign workers is no easy task, and the number of local human resources is not sufficient. Wong says a gradual approach is needed otherwise there will be disadvantages for the gaming industry affecting the wider economy. Wong added that the gaming sector had 15,878 imported workers at the end of September 2009, but the number was down to just 1,859 people at the end of last year. The senior positions of the gaming sector back then employed 1,138 imported workers; now the number has been reduced to just 165, he added. No fixed quotas The government will not establish specific quotas for imported labour industry by industry. Both the director of Legal Affairs Bureau (DSAJ), Andre Cheong Weng Chon, and the spokesman for the Executive Council, Leong Heng Teng said this was the case because of the different situations and needs of different sectors. As previously announced, a committee for the hiring of non-resident workers will be established to analyse the needs of each local industry and economic sector, Cheong said. The committee will be formed by government officials and representatives of labour sectors and employers, but it won’t include representatives of imported workers. Meanwhile, the government has a new by-law to complement the recently enacted imported labour law. The by-law spells out the conditions that employers need to follow to get a permission to hire non-resident workers. Among them is the obligation for the employer to maintain a minimum number of local workers – the by-law lays down the criteria to define such number for each company. The by-law also includes a mechanism for the reassessment of the number of non-resident workers.