Date
23 August 2017
Construction workers are very much in demand amid a labor shortage and a sharp rise in spending on infrastructure projects. Photo: CNSA
Construction workers are very much in demand amid a labor shortage and a sharp rise in spending on infrastructure projects. Photo: CNSA

Construction workers to receive 9.5% pay rise this year

About 200,000 construction workers in the city can expect an average pay rise of 9.5 percent this year, as wages increase amid a labor shortage, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Thursday.

The pay increases could even reach double digits for six job categories in the sector, with some workers fetching daily rates between HK$1,600 (US$206.26) and HK$2,000, according to the newspaper.

In one extreme case, a cement mason was able to make HK$150,000 in one particularly busy month as he worked extended shifts of 15 hours every day.

Representatives from the food and beverage, cleaning and security sectors said average wage levels are already above the proposed minimum wage. However, they are worried that some employers might cut down on headcounts or combine roles to trim costs.

According to the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union, workers who passed trade qualification tests have seen their salaries increase for six years in a row since 2009, with an increase of around 10 percent in 2012 and 9 percent last year.

A survey of 2,617 construction workers across 15 job types showed that their employers have agreed to wage increases ranging from 5 to 16.7 percent in the coming year, the union said.

Construction Industry Council chairman Chow Luen-kiu said as the total spending on local infrastructure projects this year will exceed HK$100 billion, there is a strong demand for workers.

Chow estimated that there is still a shortage of 8,000 to 10,000 workers in the industry.

Workers who have just joined the industry could expect a daily wage HK$800, and this could easily rise to HK$1,000 after three months, he said.

A cement mason with a year of work experience is normally paid HK$1,500 a day, and could be promoted to master in just three years.

However, Chow laments the high turnover rate in the sector, with up to half of the people quitting just days after signing up.

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EL/AC/CG

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