Date
29 May 2017
Putonghua-speaking workers are being given priority in a government hiring program for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge project. Photo: Xinhua
Putonghua-speaking workers are being given priority in a government hiring program for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge project. Photo: Xinhua

Unions slam plan to give priority to Putonghua-speaking workers

Is Putonghua necessary to land a job in the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge project?

The Labor Department thinks so, but labor unions disagree.

They’re calling a plan to give priority to Putonghua speakers a joke and want the government to drop the idea, Apple Daily reports.

The Labor Department is recruiting 575 workers for the HK$35.89 billion (US$4.62 billion) project on behalf of contractors starting next Friday.

Successful applicants with three years’ experience can earn between HK$23,400 and HK$39,000 a month working six days a week.

Officials said qualified applicants who speak Putonghua will be given priority.

Leung Chau-ting, an employee representative on the Labor Advisory Board, called the the remarks “weird”.

He said the condition discriminates against Hong Kong workers who don’t speak the Chinese official language.

Chow Luen-kiu, chairman of the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union, said the contractors might be considering hiring supervisors from the mainland, so they want to ensure there will be no language barrier.

Meanwhile, Wong Wai-man, director of the Bar Bending Solidarity Union, said the wages are too low, in some cases up to 44 percent lower than market rates.

The controversial project is expected to miss its scheduled 2017 completion after a series of delays.

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TL/AC/RA

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