CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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What about the workers?

HONG KONG (SE): Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs issued a petition in February calling for more concern and attention from the new chief executive to be given grassroots society than has been receiving up until now.

It stressed that as the majority of Hong Kong people cannot join the small circle selection panel made up of only of 1,194 people that will finalise its choice on March 26, the voice of the marginalised ends up being ignored during the process of naming the next person to take the top job in the special administrative region.

The Labour Commission says that although Hong Kong has enjoyed steady economic growth in recent years, the fruit of this has not been shared with the workers at the grassroots level.

The number of those deemed to be living in poverty in 2015 reached 970,000, a figure that includes at least 130,000 working households, in addition to over 300,000 retired and ageing people.

The Labour Commission also points out that the present government has turned a blind eye to the poverty of working people in Hong Kong. Not only has it procrastinated over legislation on standard working hours, but has also rejected the universal retirement protection proposal.

As a result, many Hong Kong people have to work overtime without pay and the possibility of financial support after retirement simply becomes a diminishing dream.

The petition is demanding that the next chief executive address holistic economic growth and enforce labour policies that are family-friendly by legislating on standard working hours and overtime compensation, setting up a universal retirement protection scheme without means testing, as well as respecting the rights of longtime employees and not reducing the ratio for calculating long service and severance payments.

It stresses that political leaders should lead people to unity and the development of a caring community, instead of simply protecting the few with vested interests.

Catholics in the Religious Subsector of the Election Committee met two chief executive hopefuls, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and John Tsang Chun-wah, on separate occasions on February 11.

James Kwok Tsz-kwan, one of the representatives from the Religious Subsector, said they do not represent the diocese and, consequently, will make their nominations separately, based on their own judgement.

He explained that they will continue to arrange meetings with other candidates.

Kwok told the Kung Kao Po after the meeting that the Catholic members of the Religious Subsector had a discussion before meeting the two candidates.

 They decided that they would exchange their views with them on Church social teaching, the pope’s exhortations, the data provided by the social concern groups in the Church and the principle of human dignity.

Aspects covered in their meeting with the two included sexual orientation discrimination, universal retirement protection, standard working hours, social welfare policies, public finances, the decline in working population, the rights of torture claimants, education, young people’s situations and the use of personal data, among other things.

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