A key trade union representative is being accused of inexperience during negotiations on standard working hours which ended with controversial proposals.
Stanley Ng, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, should have objected to the proceedings and asked for a renegotiation, Ming Pao Daily reported Friday, citing lawmaker Chan Yuen-han, honorary chairman of Hong Kong’s largest workers group.
Ng appeared to side with employers by being seen with their representatives at the formal unveiling of the recommendations, Chan said.
On Wednesday, the Standard Working Hours Committee said it failed to reach consensus on a “one size fits all” formula and left the issue to individual employers and employees.
The committee did agree that working hours should be written into every contract, as well as provisions for meal times, breaks and overtime.
However, workers groups criticized the decision, saying it does not go far enough to protect their rights.
On Wednesday, Chan said the proposals give employers further means to cheat their workers.
In a contractual arrangement, employers can force employees to accept long working hours without paying overtime, she said.
Mung Siu-tat, chief executive of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) said the recommendations simply throw the working hours issue back to employers and employees, making it likely the former will prevail.
In a way, the proposals legitimize long working hours, he said.
Mung said HKCTU will organize a signature campaign and a May 1 protest march.
Ng told a radio interview that the committee’s recommendations after two years of talks are not final and said he will continue to seek legislation on standard working hours.
Committee member Raymond So accused critics of jumping to conclusions, saying the recommendations are only part of a framework with details yet to be finalized.
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