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社評雙語道:Balancing sides in standard working hours dispute標時勞資「打交」 政府有責平衡

2016-05-30
■香港就標準工時的立法一直有爭議。圖為勞工界標準工時諮詢大會。 資料圖片■香港就標準工時的立法一直有爭議。圖為勞工界標準工時諮詢大會。 資料圖片

■Jeffrey Tse [ywc_jeffrey@hotmail.com]

Learning Point

香港人平均工作時間一向偏高,最近瑞銀《價格與收入》報告就指出港人每周工作達50.11小時,為全世界最高,而且與2012年的報告相比亦增近6小時。

2012年至今仍未達共識

因此,標準工時自然成為本港勞工福利其中一項重大議題。香港在2011年開始實施最低工資,而政府亦在2010年至2011年度施政報告中承諾研究標準工時。

政府於2012年11月公佈《標準工時政策研究報告》,再於2013年4月成立標準工時委員會,開始茪漎膍s標準工時的可行方案。然而,因為標準工時議題極具爭議,而且對香港就業市場、經濟發展、整體競爭力、勞工福利等方面有重大影響,因此多年來都未有重大進展。

本欄於2015年10月,就曾刊登有關標準工時委員會勞方委員,要求委員會就標準工時立法提出具體方案,否則考慮集體退出委員會的社評。

時至今日,環球經濟陰霾密佈,標準工時卻仍然停留於是否以立法實施的討論階段,可以說距離落實之日依然遙遙無期。

原文

標準工時(standard working hours)問題尚未解決,近日掀起討論,由於相當複雜,要達成共識(consensus)並不容易。提出這些措施的初衷是照顧基層(the rights of grass-roots citizens)權益,同時顧及商家和社會承受力、整體經濟狀況,循序漸進是容易為各方接受的方式。強求一步到位、否則就一拍兩散(all-or-nothing)的取態,對落實措施並無幫助,更可能適得其反。

持份者拒合作 分歧難收窄

標準工時、退休保障(retirement protection)和強積金(MPF )對沖是本港關乎勞工及基層利益保障的三大難題,普羅市民期望落實這些措施,改善生活質素。但是這些措施既牽涉僱主利益,也關乎公共財政的可持續性( sustainability ),目前社會分歧明顯,爭議甚大。

更為棘手的是,近年本港民生議題的討論也變得激化,包括勞資雙方在內的有關持份者,更執茤韟菑v的立場,導致標準工時、退休保障和強積金對沖不僅未能通過討論收窄分歧,反而矛盾轉趨尖銳,例如標準工時委員會的勞方委員杯葛(boycott)第二輪諮詢,以示對資方不肯考慮立法的強烈不滿。

理性溝通 以歐洲失敗為鏡

去年被否決的政改方案(constitutional reform package),經過長期廣泛的諮詢,得到本港主流民意認同和中央支持,是至今為止最好的方案,通過政改方案,本港的普選就能邁出重要一步,實現民主政制的飛躍(a big leap )。可惜因為少數反對派出於自己的政治利益考慮,一意孤行否決了政改方案,只求一方獨贏,結果是無人能贏(no-win situation)。

循序漸進總好過原地踏步,理性溝通好過互相指責(blame shifting),有所收穫好過一無所獲。目前全球經濟不景,本港經濟下行壓力加大,失業率(unemployment)掉頭上升,經濟面臨的挑戰不容低估,在這樣的形勢下,如果強推影響茲事體大的勞工、福利政策,而不充分考慮僱主、公共財政(public coffers)的現實承受力,幫勞工、幫基層的良好願望,隨時可能事與願違,未見其利,反受其害。

近年歐洲經濟復甦乏力,其中一個原因就是實施最低工資(minimum wage) 和標準工時,表面上增加了就業機會,實際上壓縮了企業在營運不景時節省成本的彈性,削弱企業擴張和招聘意慾,導致年輕人失業率高企。歐洲的前車之鑑,值得香港重視,有關各方在討論勞工、福利政策時,應避免意氣用事,保留回轉的餘地,努力達至多贏。

(摘錄自文匯報社評16-5-2016)

(標題及小標題為編輯所加)

譯文

The topic of standard working hours return to the news headlines as the problem remains unsolved. Its complicated nature require much time and effort before a consensus is reached. The original intention of this policy is to balance between protecting the rights of grass-roots citizens, the affordability of the business sector and the impacts on our economy. A gradual and orderly approach should be the most acceptable among the parties of interest. Forcing the way of a 'big bang' with an all-or-nothing mentality would probably bring only opposite effects.

Refusal to concede widens gap

Standard working hours, retirement protection and the MPF offsetting mechanism have been the three hurdles in the issue of protecting local grassroots workers and citizens. The general public yearns for these policies with the hope of improving their living standards. However such policies also have a huge impact on the interests of employers and the sustainability in public finances, and currently the views from the society are still very much polarised.

Apart from the above challenges, debates on issues regarding people's livelihood have also intensified and sometimes become irrational. Stakeholders from both the employer's and employee's side would not concede in negotiations, resulting in a deadlock in all three policies, which impedes prompt legislation and implementation. For instance, the second-stage consultation of standard working hours has been boycotted by the workers representatives, protesting the employer's side who apparently refused to implement it by legislation.

Europe's failure sheds a light

The constitutional reform package that was rejected by the Legislative Council last year has undergone an extensive consultation period, and was supported by both the majority of Hong Kong people and the Chinese government. It's by far the best possible proposal. If the proposal had been passed, it would surely have been a big leap towards achieving universal suffrage. Unfortunately, the opposition parties sought only to further their own political agendas by rejecting the reform package which ultimately results in a no-win situation.

Clearly, moving forward is always better than standing still, rational communication is always better than blame shifting, and harvesting success is always better than fruitless endeavors. As the global economic outlook worsens, the local economy faces substantial challenges such as growth drops and a rise in unemployment. Without considering the impacts on the public coffers and employers, forcing welfare policies through in such a time might end up defeating the original purposes when employees suffer the consequences.

The economy of Europe is recovering slowly. One reason is the implementation of minimum wage and standard working hours. On the surface they increase job opportunities, but in fact make cost-saving more difficult under harsh business circumstances. They also make firms less willing to expand and hire, so young people are getting less jobs. Hong Kong must learn from the failure of Europe, avoiding irrational actions when discussing labor and social welfare policies. More room for discussions will benefit us all.

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