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Listeners get food for thought in pay row, Thursday, May 31, 2012
May 31 2012, 12:58 PM
Group: Inactive Members
Joined: 22-June 08
Member No.: 32,280
Winnie Chong from Standard
The food fight over the effects of the minimum wage on the catering industry took to the airwaves yesterday.
Yet again it involved catering sector lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan and counterpart trade unionist Lee Cheuk-yan.
The Commercial Radio tussle came just a day after the two clashed over a Cheung call for the minimum wage to be raised by only HK$1 an hour.
This time, Cheung told listeners of the "ripple effects" the HK$28-an- hour wage has had on restaurants.
Needless to say, these were rejected by Lee.
Cheung claimed the wage has made it difficult for restaurants to hire staff to clean dishes even if they offer HK$40 an hour.
More highly ranked jobs are also feeling the effects.
Cheung said catering sector surveys have revealed a minimum wage of HK$31, some HK$3 more than the official rate.
He said it is difficult to hire workers since the jobs are unpopular, with many preferring to enter the security field.
Cheung said restaurants have to tackle the effects of the minimum wage through measures such as raising prices, cutting jobs, or switching some permanent posts to temporary ones.
"What surprised me is the ripple effect of the minimum wage. It affects 50percent of workers who have seen their wages increase," he said.
However, Lee disagreed, saying the minimum wage has had little effect on the catering business, and pay goes up because of supply and demand in the market.
Catering is not the only sector experiencing difficulties in hiring lower-ranked workers.
Lee said it is important to differentiate between the effects of normal pay increases and those arising from the minimum wage.
"While many workers from other sectors also had their wages increased 4-5percent in the past, does it mean it was because of the ripple effects?" Lee asked.
Increases in the price of ingredients by as much as 50percent and rent hikes of 30percent are the main reasons for the jump in operating costs, he said.
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