Starting from 1 May, the Hong Kong government will implement the biggest increase in the city’s minimum wage.
Workers are set to benefit from the new minimum hourly rate of HK$37.50 (US$4.80). It will be the highest increase since the city launched a mandatory minimum wage in 2011.
About 150,000 low-paid workers are expected to benefit from the rise, but it could also mean an ad-ditional HK$700 million a year in expenses for businesses.
Despite the record-high rise, Hong Kong’s minimum wage still fares poorly against the rate in many other developed countries. Australia has the highest minimum wage in the world at US$13.60 per hour, while Germany’s is at US$10.10.
Taiwan, however, isn’t far behind Hong Kong, with the latest increase seeing the city’s minimum wage at about US$4.90 per hour.
Hong Kong’s new rate is welcomed but it may not be enough to improve living standards of the low-est paid in the city, said the chief executive of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.
“The bosses have made money, but the employees can’t get a share of the fruits,” Mung Siu-tat said. “And the government is reviewing the minimum wage biennially, resulting in a chronic lag in the sal-aries for the poorest workers, behind the market trend and inflation.”
He added that the minimum wage should be HK$44 if it grew in line with the economy.
According to the South China Morning Post, a recent study by Oxfam Hong Kong and Chinese Univer-sity found that workers need to earn at least HK$54.70 an hour to ensure a basic standard of living in the city.