2023 勞工主日聲明 Labour Sunday Statement
Labour Sunday Statement
April 30, 2023
You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brethren or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns; you shall give him his hire on the day he earns it, before the sun goes down for he is poor and sets his heart upon it; lest he cry against you to the Lord, and it be sin on you.
Each year the Hong Kong churches are invited to celebrate Labour Sunday between the end of April and the beginning of May. Work is a major part of most people’s lives. It provides us with the basic necessities of life. It also gives us the opportunity to interact with others and to contribute to society.Work is both a blessing and a burden. On Labour Sunday be thank God for the benefits we derive from work and remember the many people who work for us.
This year’s Labour Sunday focuses on Hong Kong’s cleaning workers. Normally we do not pay much attention to them, yet their work is essential to keep our buildings, our streets and our parks clean and our environment healthy.
Beginning from last year the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee has begun to contact some of them. We found that there are cleaning firms which have victimized their workers during the pandemic, particularly those from racial minorities. For example one worker from a racial minority was quarantined for 20 days. The employer refused to count the quarantine time as sick leave. He did not pay sick leave pay and cancelled the monthly salary of around $8,000. The excuse given was that the firm had to employ a replacement. The quarantine was not a decision of the worker but of the government, which had advised employers that quarantine time be regarded as sick leave.Furthermore the company pocketed the government special subsidy and did not pass it on to the employees.
Cleaning workers are the first line of defence in a pandemic and deserve recognition. They formulated five demands:
1. The special government subsidy should be used to compensate workers.
2. The Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene and the Labour Department should investigate the firms and enforce regulations.
3. The environment of cleaning workers rest places should be improved.
4. Employment contracts and other information should be issued in different languages.
5. Assist those having lost their jobs during the pandemic.
This year’s Labour Sunday encourages us to pay attention to the cleaning workers in our city and to respect their dignity. Wherever we are in a position we can help to ensure adequate pay for them and fair treatment. The words from Deuteronomy remind us that God’s commandment includes the care for labourers.
Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee