Wage bonanza for construction workers

Wage bonanza for construction workers

Union says 200,000 workers benefit from wage hikes

The money being splashed around due to the current boom in the construction industry has continued to trickle down to the rank and file with some lucky souls getting as much as 20 percent wage increases.

The Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union conducted a survey of workers during the period May to September this year and found they had experienced wage increase averaging five percent.

There were some trades that continued to see heavy demand.

The trade experiencing the highest wage increase was concretor with those workers now getting paid HK$1,800 per day, an increase of 20 percent over last year.

Next were the scaffolder and formwork erector trades which are now paying HK$1,400 and HK$1,500 per day respectively, the wages of both trades having increased 16.7 percent and 15.4 percent respectively.

Steelfixers saw wage increases of 9.6 percent to HK$1490.

The union said about 200,000 workers were benefitting from wage increases.

It added that this was the fifth consecutive year that take-home pay has increased.

Union chairman Chow Luen-kiu said trades such as concretor and formwork erector were seeing the highest wage increases because people in general were unwilling to perform such work on site.

For example, working on the roof on steelfixing and formwork with the sun beating down relentlessly was especially arduous.

“During concreting, there is water vapour [that is released]. With the sun above and water vapour below, it’s very difficult to work,” Chow said.

He added that additives added to the concrete mix could cause allergic reactions to those workers with poor skin.

A concretor at a construction site of Sun Hung Kai Properties in Yuen Long. Concretors have seen wage increases of 20 percent  (Danny Chung)

A concretor at a construction site of Sun Hung Kai Properties in Yuen Long. Concretors have seen wage increases of 20 percent (Danny Chung)

Continued heavy spending on infrastructure such as the railway extension lines for MTR Corporation (0066) and property projects by private developers in recent years has led to heavy demand for construction labour.

According to the latest official figures from the Census and Statistics Department, the total gross value of construction works performed by main contractors in the second quarter of 2013 rose 12.3 percent year-on-year in nominal terms to HK$42.2 billion.

Indications are that the total value of output for 2013 could exceed last year’s record of HK$161.5 billion.

The Construction Industry Council which runs construction trade training courses has found it difficult to attract enough young people willing to enter the industry to replace the ageing workforce.

Earlier this week, the CIC said labour imports would be necessary to get staff for hard-to-fill trades such as steelfixers and carpenters.

The union reiterated its opposition to labour imports.

Danny Chung


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