Employers create labour shortage

 

The government relieved the population policy consultation paper in late October. The main issues raised in the consultation paper are the aging population and the shortage of workforce. The HKCTU is afraid that the government will import more foreign workers.

The paper echoes the voice of business sector. Shirley Yuen, president of Chamber of Commerce recently asked the Government to import low skilled workers while many industries have difficulties in recruitment.

 

Employers create labour shortage

The CTU believes that labour shortage is mainly due to low-wage and poor working conditions. Employers are unwilling to improve salary, and the worker condition especially for low skilled workers, are unbearable. On the other hand, no effective measures to encourage potential workforce, such as female homemakers, elderly and disable, to work. Also, there are no regulations on family-friendly workplace practices which also discourage people from work.

Industries such as retail, catering and care homes suffer from difficult recruitment. The CTU argues that it is due to low wage and poor working conditions. According to the Census and Statistics Department, the real incomes of grass-roots works were almost stand still for the past ten years. At the same time, the per capita GDP has increased significantly over 60%. It is why those low skilled jobs cannot attract people.

 

 

2003 Daily Wage    

2013 Daily Wage    

Increase    

Salesman

339

421

24.2%

Hotel room attendant

387

479

23.9%

Hotel Lobby Receptionist

412

526

27.7%

Restaurant waiters

317

395

24.4%

Non-Chinese restaurants waiters      

309

427

38.2%

CPI (A)

90.7

115.5

27.3%

GDP per capita (year-round)

186,704

299,596

60.5%

 

In contrast, other industries with better salary growth, their vacancy ratios are lower (see table below). For accommodation and food services and retail trade, their real wages are similar to the level of 1992. Meanwhile, these two industries are two of the longest working hours sectors. 68.7% and 45.7% of their full time employees work 54 hours or more per week respectively. It proofs that labour shortage problem in particular sectors is caused by low wage and long working hour.

 

2013 Real Wage Index (September 1992 = 100)

 

 

Wage     

Vacancy Ratio    

Accommodation and food services

101.9

5.6%

Retail trade

98.4

3.6%

Professional and business services

121.8

2.5%

Financial and insurance activities

127.8

2.4%

Import and export trade and wholesale      

127.2

1.9%

 

Discourage potential workforce to work

Hong Kong’s labour force participation rate (LFPR) is only 58.8% in 2012, which is lower than other countries. For example, the LFPR of Singapore is 66.6%. Female, elderly and disable have low participation rate due to many barriers.

CTU has criticizes there has been no real progress on creating a supportive environment for homemakers to work. At present, a serious shortage of child care services provided by the government, so many women are forced to stay home to care for their families. Hong Kong female LFPR is only 49.6% (1.55 millions). Lower than The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) average 64.6%. If Hong Kong's female labor force participation rate increased to an average level of OECD countries, 468,000 potential workforces can be unleashed.

Few of Hong Kong employers practice family-friendly workplace measures. It is because the government has no intention to regulate those practices. For instance, there is no parental leave in Hong Kong. Working parents are almost impossible to apply leave to take care of their children. Also, this is no common to find a breast-feeding room in offices.

The CTU claims that the government should set up legislations on family-friendly labour policies, including parental leave, paternity leave and family-friendly workplace. It is also important to provide accessible and sufficient childcare services to homemakers. At the same time, employers should change their mind set to improve wage and working conditions of low skilled workers.

 

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