Foreign labour law no protection for local workers: lawmakers

Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Issue 434, Page 4
Word count: 552
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Although the bill outlining regulations of hiring foreign labourers had been passed yesterday at the Legislative Assembly for future committee deliberation, some lawmakers criticised the bill as having no mechanism to protect locals’ employment rights.

Secretary for Economy and Finance, Francis Tam Pak Yuen, told the Assembly that the government had never rejected the setting up of a system to monitor the import of non local workers, adding that such a mechanism must be introduced in the future and will involve participation from all social sectors.

A joint statement was made by lawmakers Lau Cheok Va, Kwan Tsui Hang, Leong Iok Wa and Lee Chon Cheng after casing their votes to the bill yesterday.

They said they were “very dissatisfied” with the bill as it did not help prevent local workers’ rights from being damaged by the import of foreign labourers as well as having no mechanism to monitor the import process.

For the past 20 years the lawmakers said the labour sector had always been urging the government to ensure locals workers’ employment rights and fair salary levels at the same time when focusing on economic development.

In 2001, a public consultation was carried out on the bill for regulating the recruitment of foreign labourers, and the local labour sector made a number of suggestions to the government, the joint statement read.

The suggestions included a complete restriction on the use of imported labourers for certain occupations and positions, a cap for the number of imports in accordance to local employment conditions, a ratio for local and foreign labourers in companies, a basic salary for imported labourers in order to prevent competition with locals, as well as measures to ensure foreign labourers were only supplementary to the local labour force.

The lawmakers said the labour sector always insisted the above suggestions be included in the bill which should be the government’s main purpose of introducing the law to the Assembly this time.

According to statistics from the Labour Affairs Bureau in 2006, more than 210,000 non locals had applied to work in Macau and some 90,000 places were granted to the applications.

The lawmakers then questioned the situation of 2007 which they said still had not been revealed by the Human Resources Office.

Although the officials have promised to regulate the maximum number of imported labourers and set up a monitoring mechanism in the future by Administrative Regulations, the joint statement said local workers had already “lost faith” that such commitments could be honoured.

The four lawmakers yesterday urged the government to pay “serious attention” to the “reasonable demands” of the labour sector during the future deliberation of the standing committee.

In addition, Ng Kuok Cheong and Au Kam San also released a statement after voting which gave a consistent view of the four lawmakers.

Mr Ng and Mr Au said they hoped that the content of the bill could be greatly improved when undergoing committee deliberation which includes a complete withdrawal of non-technical foreign labourers in all local casinos and also a fee for companies to import workers.

The Assembly meeting will continue at 3pm today in which lawmakers will discuss the bills of modifying the Voter Registration Law as well as reducing the two-month annual break of the Legislative Council that takes place between August 15 and October 14.

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1 Comment »

  1. honey Said:

    thank’s for the news. Now i know were to read an english news everyday. They always see the foreign workers are so many but…. i think not all locals were accomodate the jobs they say. By the way thank’s again 🙂


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