More than 5,000 people took to the streets in Hong Kong Sunday to demand laws on standard working hours and a universal pension scheme. Two major marches were carried out to mark the Labor Day, organized separately by the Federation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU).
The organizers urged the government to put in place the two policies immediately, stating that the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, whose current term in office ends July next year, promised to get the polices implemented. Protesters also demanded abolition of the so-called offset provision in the Mandatory Provident Fund — Hong Kong’s existing retirement savings scheme — which according to critics does not benefit employees. Under the controversial provision, employers can use their part of the money contributed to the fund to offset the workers' severance and long-service payments.
During Leung's election campaign four years ago, he promised workers that regulations on standard working hours, a universal pension scheme and the scrapping of the offsetting system will take place under his leadership, Mung Siu-tat, CEO of CTU, told South China Morning Post. So far, Leung has only set up committees to study these issues.
“The committees have no sincerity in realizing these policies,” Mung reportedly said. “Now Leung is going to run for a second term. We absolutely do not accept such a person, who has continuously betrayed workers, having a second term.”
A government spokesman reportedly said Sunday the government was working to improve employee benefits, but added that other aspects, including Hong Kong’s economy being subjected to “considerable downside risks,” needed to be considered.