To support our future infrastructure development, the construction industry needs a sufficient supply of manpower. Adopting a multi-pronged approach, we work closely with all parties to effectively train and recruit local workers, and also encourage the industry to apply innovative technologies. At the same time, through the Labour Importation Scheme for the Construction Sector, we import supplementary workers to fill in the temporary manpower gap. Recently, Permanent Secretary for Development (Works), Mr LAU Chun-kit, Ricky, and I visited the quarters for imported construction labour in Tam Mi, Yuen Long, which are about to commence, for a briefing by representatives of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) on the latest progress of the related preparation work. This time, I have invited a Development Bureau (DEVB) colleague and a CIC representative to talk about the scheme and the quarters’ facilities etc.
Principal Assistant Secretary (Works) of the DEVB, Mrs WONG HO Wing-sze, Susanne, says that the Government attaches great importance to the safety of construction workers. Same as local workers, employee benefits of imported workers are also protected under the relevant legislation of Hong Kong. Besides, imported workers must abide by Hong Kong’s safety regulations. They must be skilled workers who already have relevant site works experience and knowledge. After arrival in Hong Kong, they must complete a basic safety training course (commonly known as the “Green Card Training Course”), and pass the test to become registered workers before they can work on construction sites. Moreover, same as local workers, the imported workers must comply with the requirements of “designated workers for designated skills”. For example, they must carry out the relevant work under the instruction and supervision of registered semi-skilled/skilled worker(s). (Unless, after arrival in Hong Kong, they make alternative arrangements to take, and then pass, the trade tests provided by CIC or other institutions, and register themselves as semi-skilled or skilled workers.)
Moreover, main contractors approved under the scheme must adopt the Smart Site Safety System, and must assign a safety officer to brief imported workers on safety measures, enabling them to familiarize with the site operations and safety regulations in Hong Kong.
Making good use of community isolation facilities - Conversion into quarters for imported workers
Under the scheme, employers must provide imported workers in Hong Kong with accommodation at designated locations so as to avoid affecting the housing supply in Hong Kong. Also, as the construction industry is labour-intensive and with a considerable number of workers in every works site, it will be easier and more appropriate to arrange them to commute between the sites and the quarters at designated locations. As for accommodation at designated locations, employers may either rent the designated quarters arranged by the Government, such as the centralised quarters which were made available through making good use of the community isolation facility in Tam Mi, Yuen Long with some conversion works, or provide accommodation at construction sites under the principal contractors.
We would like to thank the CIC for taking up the important responsibilities of constructing and operating the designated quarters in Tam Mi, Yuen Long, which will be opened within October. The daily management team has almost 100 staff members, including security and cleansing personnel.
Quarters in Tam Mi, Yuen Long - Ready for operation within the month
Executive Director of the CIC, Mr CHENG Ting-ning, Albert, says that apart from providing imported workers with accommodation, the CIC’s management team and the Hong Kong Construction Association have taken care of the needs of workers by working with employers, with a coordinating committee, to handle arrangement for meals and transportation etc., which can also avoid creating impact on the community. Besides, the designated quarters will operate on a self-financing basis by charging rent from the leasing main contractors to cover costs, without using public funds.
He says that the management team set up by the CIC is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the quarters and handling external liaison. The CIC will also hire relevant service providers for cleansing, security and maintenance of facilities etc. In addition to arranging meals and transportation for imported workers, main contractors, who represent employers, also have to assign staff members to help workers to fit into living in the quarters, and to comply with the house rules and requirements of the quarters.
1 800 units as accommodation for about 7 000 workers
The quarters in Tam Mi, Yuen Long provide a total of 1 800 units equipped with basic furniture and electrical appliances that can accommodate about 7 000 workers. The quarters are designed with essential amenities such as shower cubicles, laundry rooms, pantries, medical rooms, Wi-Fi, space for common activities, cultural and recreational facilities, convenience stores and vending machines.
Commuting in batches to avoid affecting the community
To avoid affecting the community, main contractors will arrange for imported workers to leave the quarters for different construction sites before commencement of the local morning rush hours. Also, some workers will return to the quarters in batches after dinner at the construction sites or other locations. When organising leisure activities and related transportation for workers, the management team of the quarters and employers will also arrange for them to commute in batches at different time slots.
We are grateful to the stakeholders, including the construction industry, the labour sector, and members of the local community, for their valuable advice and concerted efforts to enable imported workers to work in Hong Kong with peace of mind, supplementing the manpower supply of the construction industry. Together we are working to support infrastructure development with a view to improving people’s livelihood and promoting economic advancement in Hong Kong.
15 October, 2023Back