Discriminating expats

Five and a half

In Hong Kong it is common for offices to be open on Saturday morning, something that you would not find in the UK (or most other countries as far as I know), and hence we have public holidays on a Saturday (the cause of moaning from those who don't have to work on Saturday). In fact, it's not quite as bad as it might seem, because many people only have to work alternate Saturdays ("long week" and "short week").

However, I think that is a (very) gradual trend towards a five-day week. I know one company that used to open their office on Saturday but stopped doing so (though they asked staff to make up the hours during the week), and others that have "always" had a 5-day week. If you read the job adverts you will sometimes see this advertised as a benefit.

This week, Donald Tsang took everyone by surprise by announcing that the governments wants to introduce a five-day week for civil servants, but that they will still have to work 44 hours per week. Moving swiftly on without making any jokes about civil servants and work, this will surely accelerate the trend towards a five-day week in the private sector as well, which seems to have alarmed to "Pro-Business" lobby. Liberal Party leader James Tien rarely misses a chance to make a fool of himself, and this was a prime opportunity for him to say something stupid. He did not disappoint us (from The Standard):

James Tien, chairman of the pro-business Liberal Party, said the plan will create unnecessary pressure on the small-and-medium sized enterprises that account for about 90 percent of business firms in Hong Kong. "This will raise expectations of staff at private firms. And if some companies choose not to follow the government's system, they will easily be branded `unscrupulous employers'," he said.

Tien called for the government to rethink the system as he believed it could drive more workers to spend weekend holidays in the mainland and thus hurt the retail and catering industry.

The last comment is priceless. Over the last ten years, Hong Kong and China have become much closer - there is a significant trend towards Hong Kong people spending the working week in China, PRC residents come to Hong Kong for shopping, and Hong Kong people pop across the border for shopping, eating and all manner of other services. It benefits both Hong Kong and China.

Does he really think that if all Hong Kong people had a whole two days off every week, 90% of them would flood across the border on Friday night to return only on Sunday? It seems rather unlikely, and a moment's thought would tell him that there is hardly any difference between this and someone working in Hong Kong on Saturday morning and crossing the border the same afternoon.

Me, I'd welcome it if Hong Kong was a bit less crowded every weekend, but I can't see it happening.


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Tom - Daai Tou Laam

Not like Tien really represents the retail or catering industry, both of whom I'm pretty sure actually have their own representatives in LegCo.

Besides it's hard to be profiting from workers caught in their cubicles, unless you're selling on-line ads to web gaming or MP3 downloading sites.

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