By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Cleaning, security and property management could become the first three industries chosen by the Government in an initial implementation phase of the minimum wage, said Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen.
He also told reporters yesterday that the Government hopes to acquire “a consensus on a certain level” and to see “real progress” in 2011, which could then serve as a foundation for Macau to begin the legislative process of a framework law.
The Macau Federation of Trade Unions (FAOM) had a short meeting with the secretary at the Government Headquarters and delivered a minimum wage survey report to him.
The survey findings, which were announced in September by the association, indicated that most of the 4,290 respondents wanted the hourly minimum wage to be stipulated at between MOP 30 and MOP 34, followed by between MOP 25 and MOP 29.
In addition, 85 percent of the respondents supported the legislation on minimum wage, and nearly 40 percent preferred a Macau-wide minimum wage system.
The secretary said the survey report is useful to help promote the stipulation of minimum wage, but was reluctant to comment on whether MOP 30 to MOP 34 will be the level to begin with in the future.
“It’s time to conduct a more specific study on the legislation and any discussions or research in society can help facilitate the process,” Tam said. “The Government’s stance has also gone beyond being open but has taken the initiative to look for a basic social consensus.”
The Standing Committee for the Coordination of Social Affairs will discuss the minimum wage for the first time early next month.
According to the secretary, the preliminary idea of the Government is to first make a framework law which can allow the minimum wage system to be introduced in various phases before reaching a complete citywide basis.
Tam said certain industries may be chosen to be the first batch to adopt a minimum wage as a “complete consensus [among all different kinds of industries] will be harder and take longer time to obtain”.
These industries, he added, are likely cleaning, security and property management.
Since September 1, 2007, workers for public departments’ outsourcing general cleaning and building security services can receive a hourly minimum wage of MOP 21, which is translated into MOP 4,368 monthly based on 26 working days and eight working hours per day. The secretary said that when the public don’t understand much about the minimum wage, they usually show stronger resistance to it.
Hence, he stressed that at this stage the most important thing is to deepen people’s and enterprises’ understanding about the system so that they can realise that the minimum wage “will not hinder economic development but contribute to the formation of a more stable environment”.
Meanwhile, FAOM president Chan Kam Meng told reporters after the meeting that the federation hopes that the Government is “truly determined” to push forward the legislation in Macau as soon as possible, in order to “help the working poor and other disadvantaged groups and give them dignity and basic income protection”.
Nevertheless, Chan said the Government’s attitude has already changed from “being reluctant [to legislate the minimum wage] to showing actions”.