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Taking pay cuts, pay freeze and no pay leaves were common employee complaints during the 2003 SARS pandemic that put Hong Kong economy to a standstill.
But looks not much has changed 12 years later. The government’s Census and Statistics Department, The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) recently compared the pay levels of locals when it was undergoing a time of crisis.
From, 2002 to 2013, it revealed that local per person GDP rose from HK$180,000 to HK$290,000 but average salary only went up by 2.1%.
Certain industries like manufacturing, retail and transport which employ 1.3 million people, representing a third of the city’s work force, are seeing pay figures which are lower than when the city was undergoing the SARS epidemic.
Manufacturing has seen a salary drop of 1.2%, retail has felled by 2.5%.
Professionals in the transport industry have seen a pay decrease of 10.8%. This is mainly because goods from around the world can be transported directly to the mainland without having to go though Hong Kong.
HKFTU suggested the government to provide training to make transport workers more competitive.
Another industry that has seen employees salary plummet is the tourism.
During SARS, many bosses required tour guides to share part of the tips with the company to prevent it from closing down.
Tour agencies bosses decided to make this malpractice an industry norm after SARS. As a result, income of tour guides fell by as much as 50%, causing many to forced to leave the industry, according to HKFTU.