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Transcript of remarks by SLW on passage of Employment (Amendment) Bill 2014 and wage claims of ATV employees

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, on the passage of the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the wage claims by ATV employees during a stand up media session at the Legislative Council (LegCo) Complex today (December 18):

Reporter: Mr Cheung, how do you describe the passing of the Bill?

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: I am very pleased that the Bill was passed after over 16 hours - a very long debate. I must stress that the three-day paternity leave is considered as an appropriate starting point, and a modest starting point. I have undertaken to review the operation of that particular ordinance one year after its implementation to see whether there is any room for improvement. I also want to stress that we have to respect the consensus of the Labour Advisory Board, which has been a long established tripartite mechanism to advise the Government on labour policy matters.

Reporter: (on why the paternity leave is set at three-day)

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: We have a very good reason for doing that. Primarily, most of the companies in Hong Kong are SMEs - small and medium-sized enterprises, some are even micro enterprises. We have to bear in mind their financial affordability, and also the manpower situation of individual companies. So we are talking about an appropriate, modest starting point. As I said, we will carry a review in a year's time.

Reporter: (on wage claims of ATV employees)

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: We are very concerned about the development of ATV, particularly the outstanding wages problem. In fact, the Labour Department has issued warning letters to the mentioned, reminding them of their obligation to pay wages. We have also set up a hotline. At the same time, labour inspectors have conducted inspection, and we are now seeking the advice of the Department of Justice on the way forward. We have also received requests from individual members of the staff for a briefing on the procedures for applying the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund. Department officials will arrange a briefing for them as soon as possible.

Reporter: (on possible withdrawal of the Bill)

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: There is no question of me threatening LegCo at all. In fact, I am being responsible by stating the position clearly because the consensus of the Labour Advisory Board (LAB) is of vital importance that any deviation from the consensus, I need to go back. That's why if the decision deviates from LAB's decision, it's incumbent upon me to go back and do my very best to reach a new consensus and come back to LegCo.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Thursday, December 18, 2014
Issued at HKT 21:48


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