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Oxfam believes that everyone is entitled to a fair wage, and that employment poverty is unfair. In Hong Kong, there is a worrying trend towards more low-wage jobs, sub-standard employment, and unemployment: in 2009, more than 360,400 workers were earning less than HK$5,250 a month. Most are women and most work in cleaning, catering, retailing, trading, hotel, security and construction industries and as domestic workers. 


Case: Cleaning workers
There is no employment protection for cleaning workers,” says Choi, 56, who has worked in the industry for decades.

In 2002, Choi was hired by a cleaning company as an outsourced worker, working more than 10 hours a day and repeatedly handling garbage and heavy objects. She earned about HK$5,000 a month, was cheated of her holiday entitlement, and suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Choi’s situation is typical, she says. “Many contractors exploit workers by deducting pay and holidays or delaying redundancy payments.”

In 2005, she joined the Cleaning Workers Association, which is supported by Oxfam Hong Kong. The Association led petitions and demonstrations, and eventually she and other workers were able to get back a third of their holiday pay.


In depth: Fair wages

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