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HKCTU campaign for standard working hours

According to government statistics, one out of every four workers is required to work overtime. Over 580,000 workers (including foreign domestic workers) need to work for more than 60 hours per week. Hong Kong is one of the cities with the longest working hours in the world. The HKCTU has urged the government to regulate working hours for many years. In April this year, the government set up a “Standard Working Hours Committee” to discuss the issue. But there is still a long way to go.

 

 

Long working hours mean poor health and no family time

 

Several surveys have revealed the negative impacts of long working hours. One survey has found that almost 40% of drivers lack rest time due to the long working hours. This situation may cause traffic accidents which hurt passengers, other road users and the drivers themselves. Meanwhile, another survey found that the longer the working hours, the lower the satisfaction level in a couple’s relationship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

44 hours per week, maximum 60

The HKCTU already has a proposal for standardized working hours (SWH). We demand a 440 hour week, with overtime payment of 150 percent of the normal wage, and maximum working hours (including SWH and overtime) of 60 per week. This proposal is quite lenient compared to other countries’ regulations. Please refer to the below table for the HKCTU’s proposal vs. several countries’ laws.

 

 

 

 



Country


Singapore


South Korea


China


Taiwan


HKCTU’s proposal


SWH (per day/per week)


8/44


40


40


8/84 (two weeks)


44


Overtime payment (ratio of the normal wage)


150%


150%


150-300%


133-200%


150%


Maximum working hours


72 hours of overtime per month


12 hours of overtime per week


36 hours of overtime per month


46 hours of overtimeper month


60 hours per week (including SWH and overtime)

 

 

The government drags its feet on the legislation

The chief executive CY Leung has refused to guarantee the passage of working hours legislation. Thus the government has neither timetable nor road map for regulation of working hours. The authority is now preparing to consult the public on whether Hong Kong should have working hours legislation, with a consultation period of two years. This arrangement is totally ridiculous and unacceptable. The government is just dragging its feet on the legislation to please the business sector. On the other hand, those officials have been simply ignoring the negative impacts of long working hours, such as poor occupational safety conditions and family relationships, which workers and their family members have been suffering from.

 

 

As in our earlier minimum wage campaign, we know we cannot wait for the government. Pressure and social awareness are the key factors to force the government into action. We will expose more of the problems of long working hours to raise the public concern. Furthermore, we have to refer more to examples from other countries which have standardized working hours decades ago, to counter the business sector which is trying to deny the need for working hours regulation by saying it is not applicable in Hong Kong. Besides the public education, we should keep mobilizing workers to fight for the legislation. For the sake of our health and families, let us fight for more humane working hours!