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Speech by SLW at Best Companies to Work For in Hong Kong 2017 Award Presentation Ceremony (English only)
     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Stephen Sui, at the Best Companies to Work For in Hong Kong 2017 Award Presentation Ceremony today (June 14):

Mr Jose Carlos Bezanilla (Chief Executive Officer, Great Place to Work in Greater China), Mr Alex Ho (General Manager, Education, Recruitment, Circulation and Syndication Business, South China Morning Post Publishers Limited), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to address this high-level audience of business leaders, CEOs and top human resources executives from a wide spectrum of industries and businesses across Hong Kong.

     Let me begin by paying warm tribute to the organiser, Great Place to Work, and the event's exclusive media partner, the South China Morning Post's Classified Post, for staging this worthwhile event. I would also like to thank the sponsors, partners and supporting organisations who helped forge this platform that sings the praises of good employer-employee relationships.

     By giving recognition to private companies which are strong in teamwork and people management as well as in fostering an employee-friendly corporate culture, the Best Companies to Work For Award Presentation Ceremony helps to foster an employee-friendly corporate culture in Hong Kong.

     As Hong Kong's Secretary for Labour and Welfare, I think of the employer-employee relationship as symbiotic in nature. On one hand, a caring corporate culture enhances employees' productivity and sense of belonging. On the other hand, a harmonious and trusting employer-employee relationship in the workplace is often what makes a company tick in today's highly competitive and fast-changing business environment.

     In fact, the double demographic challenges of an ageing population and a resultant shrinking labour force faced by advanced economies such as Hong Kong make it even more pressing for companies to devise robust human capital strategies to attract, nurture and retain good employees. Based on the latest labour force projections, Hong Kong's total labour force, excluding foreign domestic helpers, is projected to increase slightly from 3.62 million in 2016 to 3.65 million in 2018, and then taper off to 3.43 million in 2031 and hover between 3.42 million and 3.43 million until 2038 before dwindling to 3.11 million in 2064. The overall labour force participation rate (i.e. the proportion of the labour force in the population aged 15 and over) is projected to fall from 58.7 per cent in 2016 to 48.6 per cent in 2064. These rather daunting figures amount to a wake-up call for those company managements which fail to grasp the importance of employee-friendly practices.

     Thanks to the strenuous efforts and mutual understanding of both employers and employees at large, Hong Kong has been blessed with generally harmonious labour relations. With our favourable economic environment and stable labour market, the number of claims and labour disputes handled by the Labour Department has been falling steadily in recent years. The successful conciliation rate stands at a high of well over 70 per cent. Last year, the Labour Department handled only three strikes, resulting in a loss of 169 working days, or an average loss of 0.05 working days per 1 000 salaried employees and wage earners, which is among the lowest in the world.

     Hong Kong is indeed a great place to work and to invest. We have been ranked as the world's freest economy for the 23rd consecutive year by the Washington-based think tank the Heritage Foundation, and we also topped the ranking of the IMD (International Institute for Management Development) World Competitiveness Yearbook 2017 as the world's most competitive economy. This double honour speaks volumes about Hong Kong's inherent strengths and long-term potential. We are blessed with a state of full employment, with our latest unemployment rate held at a low level of 3.2 per cent (February to April 2017). Moreover, we are well placed geographically and culturally to play the key role of a "super-connector" between the fast developing Mainland market and the 60-plus economies under the Belt and Road Initiative.

     Last but not the least, Hong Kong has many good and caring employers, such as the award recipients today, that help us to attract, nurture and retain talents. Let me take this opportunity to give my heartfelt appreciation and congratulations to all the award-winning companies for boosting the morale and productivity of your staff, and helping to fuel our economic development and sharpen Hong Kong's competitive edge.

     Thank you.
Ends/Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:59
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