Importing labour to 'make the pie bigger': Eric Chan - RTHK
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Importing labour to 'make the pie bigger': Eric Chan

2023-06-17 HKT 12:47
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  • Importing labour to 'make the pie bigger': Eric Chan
The Chief Secretary said on Saturday that importing workers at a moderate level is necessary for enterprises to continue investing in Hong Kong.

Eric Chan said in a radio programme that the working population in the SAR decreased from 3.68 million in 2018 to 3.4 million in 2022. He said the plan to bring in a total of 20,000 construction and transportation workers is just one of a number of methods, and that priority will be given to local workers.

"It's not about replacing the local workforce, but to 'make the pie bigger'. If employers no longer invest in Hong Kong because of the labour shortage, which leads to problems in the economy, we will all suffer together," he said.

"Say, for example, frequent flyers know that when airlines in Hong Kong do not hire enough workers, some flights cannot operate, which in turn, makes plane tickets expensive."

He said that Hong Kong is in dire need of construction workers to develop the Northern Metropolis – the government's develop vast areas of the northern New Territories – and that subsidised training will be offered to attract more talent.

Also on a radio programme, the secretary for development said the labour importation plan won't be permanent, but it's unrealistic to end it within a short period.

Bernadette Linn said that the shortage in the construction industry in Hong Kong is expected to increase to more than 40,000 people within the next five years.

She told reporters afterwards that a special committee will be created to determine the pay median for trades in shortage.

"We will count on a special committee to be revived under the Construction Industry Council to consider the shortlist, and also the list of reference wages. And after they have come up with recommendations, we would like to bring the recommendations to a new committee to be set up by the Development Bureau," she said.

"And that committee will also be comprising of representatives from both the employers and employees' unions, which are very familiar with the construction sector."

Speaking on the same programme, the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Lam Sai-hung, said importing drivers could tackle the ageing problem faced by the trade, an issue which would affect transport services if left unsolved.

Importing labour to 'make the pie bigger': Eric Chan