The Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) has indicated to Macau News Agency (MNA) that it has already contacted TurboJet in order to ensure the employment of the company’s local resident workers after the ferry company announced that the refusal of a proposed wage cut could lead to layoffs.
“On its own initiative, DSAL has already learned about the situation and has given due follow-up [to the matter] with the company, presenting the need to ensure the priority and continuity of employment of resident workers,” the department told MNA.
It was revealed this week by Hong Kong media that the ferry company – part of the Shun Tak Group headed by Pansy Ho – has notified employees that it will reduce the wages of workers who currently receive salaries above HK$10,000 (US$1,249) per month.
Employees from the company were said to have been notified last Friday that they would have until January 16 to accept the salary reduction – set to become effective on February 1 – or otherwise see their contracts terminated.
The decision by the company could see employees who receive up to HK$70,000 per month to see a 12 per cent wage cut, with wages between HK$30,001 and HK$70,000 cut by 10 per cent, and with an 8 per cent cut for salaries between HK$10,001 and HK$30,000.
The decision led to nearly a hundred requests for help having been submitted by employees to Bill Tang Ka-piu, deputy director of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions Rights Committee, with 1,000 TurboJet employees believed to be impacted by the decision.
According to DSAL, no local TurboJet employees have so far submitted any request for support to the labour authorities.
“Pursuant to Article 59 of Law No 7/2008 – Labour Relations Law, basic remuneration may be reduced only by written agreement between the parties, which shall take effect only after communication to DSAL, with the deadline being 10 days from the date of conclusion of the agreement between the two parties, otherwise the agreement to reduce remuneration shall not take effect,’ the department also noted.
MNA has contacted TurboJet and inquired on the reasons for the proposed wage cut and the number of Macau residents currently employed in the company, but although the company showed a willingness to provide these comments, a reply has yet to be sent.
The DSAL also called for the employer and labour parties to discuss the matter in good faith and recognise the mutual needs, but warned that should any infringement occur, it would certainly follow up the case in accordance with the law in order to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of workers.
In statements to newspaper Hoje Macau, Billy Tam has said that the proposal by Shun Tak was “unreasonable” and should be “withdrawn”, with the union representative having indicated that the wage reduction initiative was done without consulting the company’s employees.
The Federation of Trade Unions was also said to have already held a meeting with TurboJet workers in which proposals, including the suspension of the wage reduction, were defined and sent to the group, with a meeting with Shun Tak scheduled to take place after the Chinese New Year, to be held between January 25 and February 8.
Shun Tak had indicated previously that the number of passengers carried by TurboJet in its Hong Kong-Macau route had dropped 32 per cent year-on-year to some 4.6 million passengers during the first half of this year after the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) in October, 2018.
This decrease led to the ferry company – the brand name of Shun Tak-China Travel Shipping Investments Limited – to report some HK$70 million in losses in the first half of 2019, after recording some HK$186 million in profits in the same period last year.