LABOR LAWS

Hong Kong Gives Workers Minimum Wage

Hong Kong is one of the richest cities in the world, but the low men on the capitalist totem pole have been cheated by the system for years—until now. Hong Kong has passed legislation to give its low-paid workers—roughly 10 percent of the population—a minimum hourly wage. Lawmakers were under pressure from the public to narrow the city's gigantic wealth gap between rich businessmen and impoverished street sweepers. Legislator Lee Cheuk-yan, head of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, insists "the employers now cannot squeeze the lowest-paid sectors of society," but business leaders say the new law will force them to make layoffs. Other critics say the legislation goes against Hong Kong's free-market roots. Unions had asked for a minimum wage of HK$33 ($4.24) an hour but will be paid HK$28 ($3.60) an hour. Most Asian countries now have a minimum wage or are in the process of implementing one, with the exception of Singapore.