Look to China, desperate job hunters urged

Top News | Maisy Mok Sophie Hui 29 Oct 2020

A former Cathay Pacific flight attendant tried her luck at an official two-day job fair in Wan Chai, as a travel agency forced all staff to go on more than five months' no-pay leave.

Meanwhile, with a tight labor market, a human resources expert encouraged youngsters to grab opportunities in the Greater Bay Area despite the salary differences. Hong Kong fresh graduates earn HK$14,000 to HK$16,000 compared with Bay Area pay of 5,000 to 6,000 yuan.

A Cathay flight attendant, Wu, 20, said she is still passionate about an aviation-related career due to its high pay and sought information from an airport security company at the fair yesterday.

"Hong Kong's airlines have unique features," she said. "I am keen to apply to be a flight attendant if they start hiring again. However, I am not familiar with Greater Bay area airlines. I don't really want to try."

Wu said she had worked for Cathay for just over a year and did not receive much compensation when fired, adding she is relying on her family for basic living costs.

The Wan Chai job fair at Southorn Stadium held by the Labour Department will end at 5.30pm today. More than 2,500 vacancies in various industries are on offer, including catering, property management and retail.

About 83 percent of the job vacancies at the fair are full-time, mostly with salaries of between HK$11,000 and HK$19,000 a month, while 98 percent of the vacancies require an education level of secondary six or below, and 62 percent do not require any relevant work experience.

Michael Luk Chung-hung, the Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker, said he has heard that Sunflower Travel will start a no-pay-leave scheme for all staff from December 1.

Luk said agency staff should be conscious of their labor rights before deciding to accept or reject the scheme.

"As the no-pay-leave period is long and no salary will be paid to the employees, it may be regarded as a state of presumed dismissal," Luk said.

He added Sunflower Travel should provide sufficient compensation to employees who reject the no-pay-leave.

A leaked Sunflower internal notice dated Tuesday said staff have to reply before noon today on whether to go for the scheme.

The company will launch a two-phase no-pay-leave scheme for all staff starting from December 1.

The first phase will be from December 1 to February 28 while the second phase will be from March 1 to May 31.

The notice said the scheme is initiated as the company can no longer endure the huge payroll and rental burden when it has had zero income for almost a year and the Employment Support Scheme will no longer be available in December.

Meanwhile, Baptist University human resources expert Felix Yip Wai-kwong expects more companies will follow suit and lay off employees, adding that the jobless rate may soar to a historic high of eight percent by December.

A survey conducted by the university between July and September, covering more than 140,000 employees in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong, forecast that local employees can see a pay rise of 1.7 to 1.8 percent next year, compared to Guangdong cities' 5.2 to 5.6 percent.

The vice president of the Hong Kong People Management Association, Ray Leung Wai-kai, encouraged youngsters to grab opportunities in the mainland, especially in the Greater Bay Area.

Although the pay is lower than in Hong Kong, its living expenses are lower than the SAR, he said.

Separately, the chairwoman of Cathay flight attendants union, Zuki Wong Sze-man, said more than 1,000 staff had signed the new contract by yesterday's deadline, while the union met with the Labour Department yesterday to seek assistance.

Cathay Pacific's general manager for corporate affairs, Andy Wong, said yesterday a majority of cabin crew have already signed the new conditions of service.

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