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Transcript of remarks by SLW on ATV wage arrears

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, on the wage arrears of Asia Television Limited (ATV) after attending the opening ceremony of the 12th Tai Kok Tsui Temple Fair today (March 6):

Reporter: íK new contract for employees. What is the Government going to do about this new contract?

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: Under the Employment Ordinance, employers and employees are free to negotiate any terms, provided that they don't violate the provisions of the Employment Ordinance. But I must stress that any clause in common agreement which purports to extinguish or reduce the rights, the benefits and also protection conferred to the employees under the Employment Ordinance shall be void. And in fact if any dispute comes up, it would be for the Court to adjudicate and decide.

     Also I would like to remind the employees, they have to be careful in signing anything which will in fact undermine their own rights and benefits.

     As regards the whole saga, we are proceeding on three fronts. First of all, we are liaising closely with the provisional liquidator to remind him to co-operate fully with the Labour Department in providing employment records, wage records and also Mandatory Provident Fund records for all employees, so that we can start processing the applications under the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund. Also, at the same time, we've already helped 230 former employees of ATV to go down this route and we will be helping another 50 in the next few days. So it adds up to around 280, which accounts for more than half of the entire staff of ATV.

     The second thing is we are also investigating vigorously, to ascertain whether there is any ground for us to launch prosecution for wage offence on the part of ATV. If we establish evidence that in fact it is not through inadequate funding in all that but is willfully and without reasonable excuse, delaying payment and fail to pay wages due, then subject to any employees coming forward as prosecution witnesses, we will definitely execute prosecution.

     The third thing is we will be mounting a tailor-made job fair for the broadcasting industry on the 22nd of this month in the Labour Department's Tsuen Wan Job Centre. We have already canvassed about 250 relevant job vacancies in the sector and hope that this would help some of the employees looking for alternative employment. So we will do what we can on all fronts to protect the interests, to remind the provisional liquidator to co-operate fully with us, and also to protect the interest of all employees concerned.

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

Ends/Sunday, March 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:25


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