The minimum wage will be raised to 40 yuan an hour in May after four years of freezing, but it is still lower than the CSSA level for a two-person family.
The Secretary for Labor and Welfare, Sun Yuhan, responded earlier (January 14) that wage earners go to work not just to make money, and many people have the backbone to give up social welfare.
The president of Oxfam, Zeng Jiahui, who has been fighting for the improvement of the minimum wage, wrote an article in a newspaper today (February 1) criticizing the statement as "really generalized" and "disappointed with the Secretary's response".
The "minimum wage" was accused of being low. Sun Yuhan, the Secretary for Labor and Welfare, once responded: "Going to work is not only for making money, it is also important for a person's mental outlook and health. Many people in Hong Kong are very strong and would rather work than take social responsibility. Welfare." (Lin Aiyi)
The "minimum wage" has been criticized for its low level since it came into effect. Even if it is about to be raised to 40 yuan, it is still less than the CSSA level for a two-person family.
In this regard, Sun Yuhan once responded that "CSSA is a security system used by the society as a "backstop" and cannot be compared with the minimum wage." People have a lot of backbone and would rather work than take social benefits."
The remarks aroused widespread criticism. Oxfam Chairman Tsang Ka-hui wrote an article "Responding to the Myth about Minimum Wage" today, refuting Sun Yuhan's "spine theory".
Zeng Jiahui criticized the "backbone theory" as if ignoring the role of the minimum wage in the life security of grassroots workers, and emphasized that society should not regard accepting low-paying jobs as a kind of "backbone", otherwise people who apply for CSSA will be labeled negatively.
Regarding the comparison of the minimum wage level with CSSA, Tsang Ka-wai quoted the definition of "CSSA" from the Social Welfare Department as "a safety net for people who cannot support themselves economically, so that their income can reach a certain level to meet their basic needs in life." , and government data show that one working member of a working household in Hong Kong needs to support about one unemployed person on average, so Oxfam uses the average level of CSSA for a two-person family (10,962 yuan) as a standard to measure whether the minimum wage level can be " meet the basic needs of life".
If the minimum wage is raised to RMB 40, taking a full-time unskilled worker as an example, when he works a median of 49.7 hours per week, his monthly salary is only RMB 9,651, which is more than 100% lower than the average level of CSSA for a two-person family. 1300 yuan.
In other words, even if the grassroots hope to be self-reliant, they have not been able to get a reasonable return and it is difficult to meet the needs of life.
As for the actual effect of the minimum wage policy, Zeng Jiahui pointed out that the basic purpose of the "minimum wage" is to "prevent wages from being too low", and the goal set by international organizations is to use this poverty alleviation tool to allow grassroots workers to share the fruits of labor fairly and equitably. However, in contrast to the implementation in Hong Kong, since its implementation in 2011, "the macro environment has always been more focused on setting wage levels, and it has failed to prevent wages from being too low", and it has failed to help grassroots people improve their lives at all.
Citing data from the Census and Statistics Department, Zeng Jiahui stated that the minimum wage was 28 yuan per hour, and 6.4% of employees (about 180,000 people) benefited at that time. Wages; however, the decline in minimum wage coverage does not mean that grassroots life has improved, because the gap between the minimum wage and the median wage has further widened from 46.6% (24.4 yuan) to 50.5% (38.2 yuan), and in 2020 The poverty rate is still as high as 23.6%, which shows that the policy has not helped much.
Zeng Jiahui reiterated that Oxfam believes that the minimum wage level should consider three major principles, including being able to catch up with inflation, being higher than the average level of CSSA, and being able to support one more non-working family member (i.e. the "one support one" principle). It should not be lower than 45.4 yuan per hour, and it should be inspected once a year to ensure timely and reasonable adjustments to maintain the purchasing power of the basic life of grassroots workers.