Imported labour bill to be ready next week

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Issue 826, Page 2
Word count: 536
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The committee meeting on the imported labour bill yesterday at the Legislative Assembly was a success, since the final draft of the bill is expected to be confirmed early this week.

The Third Standing Committee together with government representatives including Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen discussed the newest draft of the bill handed in by the government last week.

The new draft consists of 44 articles, and included most of the suggestions proposed by lawmakers in the previous meetings, the standing committee president Cheang Chi Keong said.

Mr Cheang said the major amendments in the latest version of the bill, which gives a framework to the employment of non-local labour, include a scheme that doesn’t allow employees to change to work in another company randomly and punishment to employers who don’t protect the employment rights of local workers.

According to Article 4, in normal circumstances the same non-local worker will not be issued another blue card to work in another company within six months after the previous blue card is either being abolished or expires.

In regard to Article 13, it says if employers “directly or indirectly lay off local workers or reduce local workers’ working conditions” as a result of approving them to hire imported labour, the government will have the right to terminate such approvals.

In addition, Article 32 says employers who engage in illegal employment could be fined 10,000 patacas to 20,000 patacas per illegal worker, and non local residents who work in Macau without permission could be fined 5,000 patacas to 10,000 patacas.

Apart from fines, additional penalties could be applied such as prohibiting employers from getting imported labour and restricting non-local residents from entering Macau from six months to two years.

The bill also says that employers will be charged for each imported worker they recruit, and the government will use the fees collected on social security purpose.

However, Mr Cheang said as different industries will be charged differently, the bill will not state the specific amounts for each of the industries and hence complementary administrative regulations will be announced later in the form of a Chief Executive dispatch.

Mr Cheang said the meeting went “smoothly” and no major disagreement between the government and the standing committee was seen.

He attributed the efficiency to the presence of the Secretary for Economy and Finance, who was able to clarify lawmakers’ concern instantly in the meeting.

Yet, the committee president said the bill did not include an imported labour ratio and deportation mechanism which have been advocated by the labour sector.

“The Secretary said the bill is just a framework concerning the principles of the employment of imported labour. But in the future we may be able to introduce those measures gradually based on the changes and conditions in Macau,” Mr Cheang said.

If the government is able to deliver the amended draft of the bill to the standing committee this week, Mr Cheang said they will meet again next Monday to have the last round of discussion and then sign the final work report.

He said a plenary meeting will be held either on October 7 or October 8 where lawmakers will vote for or against the bill.


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