Inflation-adjusted wages of Hong Kong workers were up just 2.1 percent in the eleven years from 2002 to 2013, according to the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU).
Of the eight main industries in Hong Kong, only five recorded real wage growth — ranging from 0.9 percent to 35.7 percent — over the period, the union said.
Meanwhile, some industries such as transportation and manufacturing actually registered negative wage growth, suggesting that workers’ pay failed to even to catch up with inflation, it said.
Over the 11-year period, the wages of workers in the transportation sector were down 10.8 percent when adjusted for inflation, while their counterparts in import, export, trading, wholesale and retail sector saw salaries fall by 2.5 percent, Ming Pao Daily News cited the union as saying.
Workers in the manufacturing sector witnessed a 1.2 percent drop in inflation-adjusted wages over the period.
In contrast, worker salaries in the beauty services, motor vehicles repair and other personal services surged by over 35 percent during the period.
Due to the SARS crisis in 2003, some employers cut down on the headcount, while increasing the number of work hours and trimming employee benefits. But when the economy recovered, the employers failed to raise the worker salaries, the union said.
The HKFTU called on the government to introduce legislation that would offer employees paid training holidays every year and encourage employers to offer on-the-job training subsidies, in order to raise the competitiveness of the local industries.
Chow Luen-kiu, chairman of the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union and a vice-chairman of the HKFTU, said the “hire first, train later” model adopted by the construction industry could be adopted by other industries in Hong Kong.
That way, young people entering the industry could be trained and receive training subsidies, and most importantly, gain better chances for advancement in life, he said.
Chow said paid training holidays will enable employees to go for further studies and obtain professional qualifications.
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