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Transcript of remarks by SLW on ATV

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, on wage arrears of Asia Television Limited (ATV) before attending the Employers' Luncheon 2016 organised by the Hong Kong Baptist University today (February 4):

Reporter: (On a legislator's criticism.)

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: Any criticism that the Labour Department is not reacting proactively is unfair because, as I said earlier, the department has been monitoring the case very closely over the last month, conducted two inspections at ATV premises, collected evidence, and the investigation is still continuing. We have secured co-operation of individual employees to act as prosecution witnesses now. So once legal advice is received to the effect that we can prosecute, we will immediately launch prosecution without further ado. We will certainly enforce the law strictly and stringently to protect the interest of employees. It is incumbent on employers to pay wages. It is a statutory duty. There is no excuse for them not to do so. In fact, today the Labour Department has also issued a new round of warning letters to all the directors of ATV, warning them the consequences of not paying wages on time. I hope they can honour the pledge they made yesterday that they will pay all the staff with cash cheques tomorrow. We are keeping a very close watch on this promise.

Reporter: (On action being taken by the Labour Department.)

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: There are three areas we are focusing on. First of all, we will be issuing a round of warning letters to the directors of ATV today, reminding them of the responsibility of paying wages on time and also the consequences of not doing so. Secondly, we will also conduct another round of inspections today, going down to ATV to contact the staff to see what help they really need from the department other than prosecution, other than providing evidence, for example employment services, their rights and benefits and particularly also on placement service if they are looking for a different job. The department also proactively canvassed 230 vacancies in other broadcasting companies, including production, engineering and sales jobs which will be suitable for ATV staff if they really decide to change jobs, as it were. We will also stand ready to hold briefing sessions to explain their employment rights and also on placement service and employment market situation. So we are helping them at all fronts. Let me remind the ATV management once again that they have promised to pay wages tomorrow and I do hope that they will keep the promise, particularly the January wages will be due by Sunday and (Lunar) New Year is around the corner. There is no reason for them to delay payment any more.

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

Ends/Thursday, February 4, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:06


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