Foreign labour ratio to be considered

Friday, May 9, 2008
Issue 338, Page 1 & 2
Word count: 468
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Research will be conducted into to the possibility of a proportional system between foreign and local labourers, the co-ordinator of the Social Affairs Co-ordination Standing Committee said yesterday, adding the existing legal principle defines imported labourers as “complementary” will remain in place.

The committee meeting yesterday mainly discussed preparation works for setting out a ratio of non-local to local labourers in Macau.

The system being considered would tie the number of foreign labourers a company can hire to the number of locals it employs.

Shuen Ka Hung, the standing committee’s co-ordinator as well as director of the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL), said as employers and employees “usually have contradictory opinions”, president Francis Tam Pak Yuen had already said during the last meeting that the research had to be carried out by “neutral entities” which would give “a greater recognition in society”.

Members of the standing committee, who were formed by representatives from both local employers and employees associations, reached a consensus that the research project had to be outsourced to a “reliable institute in Macau” and suggested that two to three different research bodies could participate in the project independently and simultaneously and their result reports would then be integrated for further discussion, Mr Shuen said.

Apart from looking into Macau’s higher education institutes or universities, the co-ordinator said commercial establishments that have the expertise of research would be considered.

Any results or suggestions concluded from the research, Mr Shuen said, must have to ensure the “overall interests of Macau” and comply with the 4/98/M law decree that defines the framework of employment policy and labourers rights.

According to Article 9 of the law decree, “The hiring of non-resident workers shall only be permitted if it is intended to overcome the lack or insufficiency of resident workers…”, and “the hiring of non-resident workers is not permitted if it contributes significantly for the reduction of workers’ rights, or directly or indirectly causes the termination of employment contracts without just cause”.

The report could propose amendments for the current legal system if needed, Mr Shuen added.

Although the co-ordinator said researchers would not be given any set topics to work on so that they could “explore things outside the box”, salary levels of imported and local workers as well as the “dismissal mechanism” were expected to be on the list.

Mr Shuen said he could not yet estimate when the proportional system, if approved, would be in place, citing “external factors” and adding that a work report had to be submitted to the government before they could start looking for research companies.

However, he said the standing committee would strive to have the preliminary works completed as soon as possible in order to meet the upcoming discussion of the “employees hiring system” as well as “to calm the social discontent”.

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