Hong Kong University sets higher minimum wage for outsourced workers

Date: January 26, 2011
Source: The HK Standard

City University has set an hourly minimum wage of HK$31 for its outsourced workers and a trade union will urge other universities to follow suit.

"Currently our policy is to pay them about 10 percent more than the average wage published regularly by the Census and Statistics Department," a university spokeswoman said.

"With the minimum wage now set at HK$28 per hour by the government, the university has decided to revise our minimum pay to about 10 percent more, which will be HK$31 per hour," she said.

The policy will take effect on May1, the same day the statutory minimum wage comes into force.

The spokeswoman added that the new pay level will also apply should any outsourcing contracts be renewed before that day.

Suzanne Wu Sui-shan, organizing secretary of the Catering and Hotel Industries Employees' General Union, said the move will increase the salaries of outsourced workers by between 14 and 23 percent.

Wu said the average hourly wage for outsourced workers at the university is now around HK$25 and they work for 10 hours a day according to their current contracts.
"Their monthly salary is HK$6,500 to HK$7,000. With the new rate their salaries will rise to HK$8,000 or more. We urge all universities to introduce a similar wage system to protect outsourced workers," she said.

The University of Hong Kong said it already has conditions and terms in outsourcing contracts requiring contractors to show corporate social responsibility and to treat workers well.

"Contractors are prescribed not to change workers' employment conditions unilaterally. They also need to agree that we can directly contact workers and check their salary records if necessary," a HKU spokeswoman said.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong said it has reminded its restaurant contractors that once the statutory minimum wage comes into force, workers' salaries should not fall below the minimum.

"In order to protect outsourced workers' welfare, the CUHK will require contractors to follow the minimum wage level when it signs or renews contracts with restaurant contractors in the future," a CUHK spokeswoman said.

The trade union also called on universities to provide workers with more information about their rights.