[Mayday Special] Ridiculous working condition as new normal. Haven't you got enough?
In recent years, various cases of workers dying on the job took place. No matter how hard you work, it is always not enough to other people. “Why can't you do a better job? Can't you be more hardworking?” might come from your boss; workplace bullying, “dictatorship” in the public institutions or schools become more and more common. As long as your boss is not happy with your work, your effort would not get recognized. Blue-collar workers might think the harder they work, the more they could earn. However, our government cares little about occupational safety and workers have to risk their lives at work. Grassroots workers' obedience is seldom respected. Some employers might argue that workers spending their mealtime in the lavatory is a personal choice, not an institutional problem. Young people might believe that they enjoy more freedom as freelancers, but end up facing exploitation, missing wages and lack of protections.
It seems to be no way out. Are you going to accept this ridiculous working life as normal? Would you get used to it? Do you still care?
Karoshi (overwork death) as a trend, over 100 cases per year
According to the latest document from the Legislative Council. Between 2013 and 2017, 561 workers died on their job without involving workplace accidents, in sectors such as real estate, finance, transport, insurance, manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing, agriculture, construction and etc. In short, every worker stands a chance to suffer from Karoshi.
In general, Karoshi refers to illness caused by prolonged period of overwork, such as heart disease caused by stress, strokes due to long-term over-tiredness. As the Hong Kong Government cares little about occupational health and safety, it has never offered any official definition of Karoshi. 75% (421) of the 561 cases of deaths at workplace involved heart failures or brain diseases. In a year, over 100 workers die while they are working. Who would be the next?
To legislate a standard workweek of 44 hours, draft and adopt measures to supervise and prevent Karoshi.
No way out for workplace bullying
Workplace bullying is everywhere, you might not have experienced it personally, but you might witness it on others. It is particularly severe in public institutions, welfare organizations and schools, where the high rank executives act as dictators. An employee's ability to please the supervisors is more valued than her/his capacity at work.
Hospital Authority is hit hardest by workplace bullying. Within two years, Hospital Authority Employees General Union has received more than 80 complaints. In 2017, the union conducted a questionnaire survey with over 200 grassroots employees, 30% of them complained that workplace bullying is a serious problem. Supervisors would intentionally give poor remarks on their work appraisal to affect their chance of contract renewal, promotion or extension. 80% of interviewees chose to keep quiet because they felt that complaining would not help and the high rank executives would cover up for each other. In March 2019, the union representative met with the Panel on Health Services of Legislative Council, pointed out that some frontline doctors were accused of negligence and sent to internal hearings because they did not attend sufficient meetings. Some doctors also revealed that Hospital Authority Director regarded them with disfavor and kept conducting internal investigations against them.
No way out when facing workplace bullying? Must you keep quiet?
To safeguard the right to collective bargaining, to allow trade unions to represent employees in negotiations with employers and grievance procedure.
Construction workers work at their own risk
We might think that construction workers could excuse themselves from workplace politics, but they have other issues to worry about. Work safety is poorly implemented in Hong Kong. In the past five years, more than 35,000 accidents took place. In other words, one in every 100 workers has faced occupational death or injuries in the last five years. In accordance with the current legislations, the maximum penalty for an employer is a fine of HKD500,000 and 12-month imprisonment. However, no employer has ever been sentenced to immediate imprisonment since the law came into force. Among the cases in 2017, the maximum penalty was HKD275,000.
A worker's life for simply some HKD200,000?
To revise occupational safety regulations, to reinforce punishment and criminal prosecution, to blacklist ill-behaved employers who put workers in danger.
No fair share for grassroots workers
The strike of cleaners in Hoi Lai Housing Estate raised the public's awareness of outsourcing. It managed to force the government to face the problem and make some reform to enable workers getting back their well-deserved compensation. However, the problems of outsourcing continue to prevail. A while ago, a cleaning worker, worked under the government's outsourcing scheme was filmed to eat his meal in a public toilet in Mongkok. The photo was spread across social media, many people asked, “why has Hong Kong become such a place?” Such an incident illustrates that grassroots workers have too little bargaining power; instead of a fair share of city's prosperity, their obedience has only earned them such miserable treatment.
When outsourcing is indeed the source to create injustice and working poor, how can we still secure our livelihood in this society?
To reform the “lowest bidder wins”outsourcing system, to include a paid-dining hour and hourly living wages of not lower than HKD54.7 in the outsourcing contracts
Freelancers are not free
Some young people want to break from the conventional labour relations and become freelancers, yet, many find them not entirely free. In 2017, a “Freelance Isn't Free Act” came into force in New York, in order to protect freelancers. In Hong Kong, freelancers are not as fortunate. The Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department does not consider freelancing as a unique profession, instead freelancers are counted as self-employed workers, in the same category with business owners, actors, designers, musical instrument teachers and etc. They are not entitled to paid sick leave, annual leave, labour insurance, mandatory provident fund contributions and etc.
As they don't have legal labour relations with others, they are unprotected when their wages are missing or their rights being violated.
To extend labour laws in order to cover freelancers' fundamental labour rights, to protect them from wages-in-arrears, occupational hazards and etc.
May Day Rally
We have suffered enough, our tolerance has a limit. It is time to voice out!