18 November 2019
Industry groups and labor unions are concerned about project delays due to filibustering activities of some lawmakers. Photo: HKEJ
Industry groups and labor unions are concerned about project delays due to filibustering activities of some lawmakers. Photo: HKEJ

Labor unions, trade groups set to form anti-filibuster alliance

Pro-establishment labor unions and trade associations are set to meet Monday to form a rarely seen alliance as they seek to prevent filibustering activities at the Legislative Council, Ming Pao Daily reported.

Chow Luen-Kiu, chairman of the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union, was quoted as saying that the meeting, which will be joined by representatives from the Hong Kong Construction Association and other engineering organizations, is aimed at organizing joint actions to put pressure on Legco and to call on legislators to stop the use of filibuster.

The move came after the Legco finance committee approved only HK$3.6 billion (US$464 million) for engineering projects in the 2013-14 fiscal year, down more than 90 percent from the previous year, following filibustering tactics of some lawmakers.

Stalling of projects due to filibustering moves could affect more than 300,000 engineering workers, according to industry insiders.

Chow said that about 240,000 workers, 60,000 engineers and technicians, and 40,000 clerical staff depend on government and private projects for their livelihood as of now.

Paul Chan, Secretary for Development, wrote on his blog Sunday that only 13 out of the proposed 39 projects, or HK$3.6 billion out of HK$43 billion, were approved by the finance committee in the last fiscal year.

In the current year, the government is expected to propose more than 80 projects worth about HK$71 billion for Legco’s approval. It is estimated that annual decrease in infrastructure expenditure will be over HK$20 billion two years from now if filibuster continues, he said.

Albert Chan, a legislator who had taken part in blocking passage of some projects, said the government’s rush to launch projects in recent years had not only pushed up costs but also created shortage of labor and prompted the need to import foreign workers. He believes filibuster helped ease such pressures.

As the government calculated that launch dates of 27 projects are facing six-month delay on average due to filibuster, Greg Wong, former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers, said a delay like this will not have much impact on the labor market as a whole. However, if the delays stretch to one year or longer, there will be a significant adverse impact, he said.

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