Hong Kong 2006
Chapter 6:
Labour Market Situation
Labour Administration and Services
Employment Services
Preparing People for Work
Labour Relations
Employees' Rights
and Benefits
Imported Workers
Occupational Safety
and Health
Occupational Safety
and Health Council
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Labour Relations

Labour relations in Hong Kong have remained harmonious. In 2006, the Labour Department's Labour Relations Division handled 199 trade disputes, a fall of 16 per cent from 2005. There were three work stoppages, resulting in the loss of 54 working days. The average loss was 0.02 of a working day per 1 000 salaried employees and wage-earners, which is among the lowest in the world. During the year, the division handled 24 958 claims for wages and other employment-related benefits or entitlements. This represented a decrease of 4 per cent from 2005. Of all disputes and claims conciliated by the division in 2006, 70.7 per cent were settled — a record high since 1994.

The Labour Department organises a wide variety of activities to enhance public understanding of the EO. Activities such as talks, seminars and exhibitions are organised and a wide range of publications is produced for distribution to the public free of charge. Also, the information is widely publicised through the department's website and the media.

The department promotes tripartite dialogue at the industry level by setting up committees of employers, employees and labour officials. With the department's help, nine tripartite committees have been formed, covering the catering, construction, theatre, logistics, property management, printing, hotel and tourism, cement and concrete, and retail industries. At the enterpirse level, the department promotes good labour management practices and effective communication. A network of 18 Human Resources Managers' Clubs has been established and experience-sharing sessions and briefings are organised for human resources practitioners.

Trade Unions

The Registry of Trade Unions administers the Trade Unions Ordinance and promotes sound and responsible trade union administration. Once registered, a trade union becomes a body corporate and enjoys immunity from certain civil suits.

In 2006, 32 new unions were registered, bringing the number of registered trade unions to 757 (comprising 715 employee unions, 21 employers' associations and 21 mixed organisations of employees and employers). There were also three registered trade union federations. In the past five years, the declared membership of employee unions and the trade union participation rate have averaged around 660 000 and about 21 per cent respectively.

About half of the employee unions are affiliated to four major labour organisations registered under the Societies Ordinance. They are the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (174 unions), the Hong Kong and Kowloon Trades Union Council (33 unions), the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (73 unions), and the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions (57 unions).

Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund

The Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund provides ex gratia payment to employees who are owed wages and other termination benefits by insolvent employers. It is financed by an annual levy of $600 imposed on each business registration certificate. The fund covers arrears of wages not exceeding $36,000 accrued during a period of four months preceding the applicant's last day of service; wages in lieu of notice for termination of employment up to $22,500 or one month's wages, whichever is less; and severance payment up to $50,000 plus 50 per cent of any entitlement in excess of $50,000.

During the year, the Labour Department continued its all-out efforts to prevent employers from evading their wage liabilities, stopping wage defaults from developing into claims on the fund. The number of applications for the fund decreased from 9 967 in 2005 to 7 532 in 2006, a record low since 1996. The financial position of the fund also improved — a surplus of $345 million was recorded in 2006. During the year, the fund disbursed a total of $143 million to 6 686 eligible applicants.

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