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Chapter 3
Labour Relations

The Programme of Labour Relations
3.1 In Hong Kong, employer and employee relations are largely premised on the stipulations of various pieces of labour laws, and the terms and conditions of employment agreed and entered into between the two parties. Employers and employees are free to form trade unions and participate in union activities. The objective of the Labour Relations Programme is to maintain and promote harmonious labour relations in establishments outside the government sector. We achieve this by:
giving advice on matters relating to conditions of employment, requirements of relevant labour legislation, and good people management practices;
providing voluntary conciliation service to help employers and employees resolve their employment claims and disputes;
promoting understanding of labour laws and encouraging good people management practices;
adjudicating minor employment claims speedily through the Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board (MECAB); and
registering trade unions and their rules, organising courses and conducting visits to trade unions to bring about sound and responsible trade union administration.
3.2 The principal legislation administered by this programme area includes the Employment Ordinance (EO), the Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO), the Labour Relations Ordinance (LRO), the Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board Ordinance (MECABO) and the Trade Unions Ordinance (TUO).
3.3 EO sets the basic standard on the conditions of employment that establishments outside the government sector have to meet. MWO establishes a Statutory Minimum Wage regime. The procedures for settling labour disputes in establishments outside the government sector are provided for in LRO. MECABO establishes the machinery known as MECAB to adjudicate minor employment claims when settlement cannot be achieved by conciliation. For the regulation of trade unions, TUO provides a statutory framework for trade union registration and administration.
Our Work and Achievements in 2016
Key indicators of Work
3.4 Some key indicators of work of the Labour Relations Programme Area were contained in Figure 3.1.
Conciliation and Consultation Services
3.5 Our consultation and conciliation services are conducive to the sound record of industrial relations in Hong Kong. In 2016, the labour relations scene remained generally stable. We held 63 268 consultation meetings, and handled 14 672 claims and 55 labour disputes in the year. Over 70% of cases with conciliation service rendered were settled in the year. In 2016, the Labour Department (LD) handled three strikes. The average number of working days lost due to strike per thousand salaried employees and wage earners was 0.05, which was among the lowest in the world. (Figures 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7)
Strengthening Tripartite Co-operation
3.6 LD runs nine industry-based tripartite committees, covering catering, cement and concrete, construction, hotel and tourism, logistics, printing, property management, retail and theatre industries, to promote tripartite dialogue and collaboration at the industry level with a view to fostering harmonious labour relations among employers, employees and the government. These tripartite committees provide effective forums for members to discuss issues of common concern to their industries. Employment related matters such as good people management, family-friendly employment practices, measures to tackle the decline in labour force as well as latest development of Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes were deliberated in the year. We also arranged an organisation visit cum sharing session for representatives of employers’ associations, employers and trade unions of various industries to enhance communication and understanding among the parties concerned.
Promotion of Good Employer-Employee Relations
3.7 To enhance public understanding of EO and to promote good people management measures, we organised various promotional activities and published free publications covering different themes for employers, employees, human resources professionals and the public. Relevant information was also disseminated through LD’s homepage and the media. In the year, six roving exhibitions on EO, good people management and family-friendly employment practices were organised over the territory. There was a set of television and radio Announcements in the Public Interest to encourage employers to help employees achieve balance between work and family life. Furthermore, we widely publicised messages on good people management as well as statutory employees’ rights and protection through extensive network of employers’ associations and trade unions.
3.8 We organised a number of experience-sharing sessions and briefings and published newsletters regularly for members of 18 human resources managers’ clubs established in different trades to promote good people management measures. We also published newspaper articles and comic strips, broadcasted radio promotional messages and placed advertisements in public transport network and periodic journals of major employers’ associations and trade union federations, etc. to encourage adoption of “employee-oriented” employment practices and cultivate a family-friendly working environment. In the year, we published newspaper supplement on successful experiences of implementing good people management as well as family-friendly employment practices.
Publications and publicity materials promoting the Employment Ordinance and good people management practices
Publications and publicity materials promoting the Employment Ordinance and good people management practices
Adjudication of Minor Employment Claims
3.9 MECAB provides a speedy, informal and inexpensive adjudication service to members of the public. It is empowered to determine employment claims involving not more than 10 claimants for a sum not exceeding $8,000 per claimant.
3.10 In 2016, MECAB recorded 900 claims amounting to $3,889,888 and concluded 923 claims with a total award of $2,155,488.
Administration of Trade Unions
3.11 The Registry of Trade Unions (RTU) is responsible for administering TUO and Trade Union Registration Regulations. Its major areas of work include registering trade unions and their rules, examining trade unions’ annual statements of account and any other returns required by the law to be furnished to RTU, organising courses on trade union legislation and fundamental trade union account management for trade unions and conducting visits to trade unions to facilitate trade unions to manage union affairs in accordance with the law and their respective rules.
3.12 In 2016, eight new trade unions were registered, making up a cumulative total of 890 trade unions (comprising 828 employee unions, 15 employers’ associations, 36 mixed organisations of employees and employers and 11 trade union federations) registered under TUO. Please refer to the following webpage for the key trade union statistics:
3.13 In the year, RTU examined 783 annual statements of account and conducted 361 visits to trade unions with a view to promoting sound and responsible trade union administration. To facilitate trade union officers in acquiring knowledge of union legislation and management, RTU organised four courses on trade union bookkeeping and trade union management and legislation.