Hong Kong: Workers brace for wage losses if construction shuts down

12 April 2020 08:57

With the number of positive cases pushing towards one thousand in Hong Kong, workers are becoming increasingly concerned that the construction industry may have to go into a temporary closure, leaving daily waged workers without income.

For now, public and private construction projects are ongoing, and workers are doing their part practicing positive hygiene measures and social distancing wherever possible, but it seems likely that more measures will be needed to prevent the spread of covid-19.

“The government has made subsidies available for contractors and subcontractors to reduce the risk of spread covid-19 on construction sites, but workers have received next to nothing and many are ineligible,” said Chan Pat Kan, General Secretary of the Construction and General Site Workers Union (CSGWU).

“We saw a number of private projects shut down temporarily after Chinese New Year, with employers concerned that workers returning from their homes in China could have brought COVID-19 with them,” he continued.

“With the economy still reeling from the impact of the Extradition Law protests last year, we’re expecting the government to look to construction as a way out of the economic crisis. 

However, workers are now increasingly suspicious of the influence of mainland China, and Chinese state-owned construction companies. "These companies prefer imported pre-fabricated construction materials which deprive our members of work. A construction-led recovery must ensure workers’ safety and incomes are protected.”