Following is a question by the Hon Leung Kwok-hung and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Dr Sarah Liao, at the Legislative Council meeting today (November 22) :
Upon coming into full operation, the Construction Workers Registration Ordinance (Cap. 583) prohibits any unregistered construction workers from personally carrying out construction work on construction sites. As such, the Construction Workers Registration Authority is currently processing the registration of construction workers. In addition, persons operating certain types of machines on construction sites must be holders of valid certificates issued by the relevant authorized authorities. I have received complaints from workers that the procedures for registration as construction workers and those for the re-validation tests for machine operators are both quite complicated. For example, workers are required to produce proof of work experience signed and issued by their employers, and the arrangements for the refresher courses and written tests for re-validation tests lack flexibility. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the number of registered workers in each trade, broken down by years of experience, and the estimated number of workers who have yet to be registered in each trade;
(b) of the numbers of complaints received by the authorities about the complicated procedures for re-validation tests in the past three years, and the number of machine operators prosecuted for failing to produce or not possessing the relevant certificates; and
(c) whether the authorities will consider streamlining the procedures for registration of construction workers and the re-validation tests, improving the arrangements for the relevant courses and written tests, as well as reducing the charges involved; if they will, of the details?
(a) The Construction Workers Registration Authority (the Authority) has commenced the registration of construction workers since December 29, 2005. As at November 12, 2006, over 121,400 workers have been registered. It is estimated that about 40,000 workers have not yet been registered. Since the number of workers applying for registration in each trade varies from day to day, and each worker can apply for registration in more than one trade, it is very difficult for us to estimate at this stage the number of workers in each trade who have not yet been registered. Moreover, most workers apply for full registration as skilled, semi-skilled or general workers, who are not required to produce proof of work experience. Therefore, we are unable to provide information on the workers' years of work experience.
(b) Before the implementation of the construction workers registration system, regulations of the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance, administered by the Labour Department (LD), have already required operators of machines under control to hold valid certificates when operating such machines. Operators can take recognised training or revalidation courses in order to obtain the relevant certificates. Hence, such requirement has no direct relation with the construction workers registration system.
In the past 3 years (i.e. from November 1, 2003 to October 31, 2006), the LD received a total of 8 complaints against complicated procedures in respect of revalidation courses for operating loadshifting machinery. During the above period, the LD did not institute prosecution against any worker for failing to produce or not holding relevant valid certificates.
(c) The Authority has consulted the stakeholders on the arrangements and procedures for registration of construction workers before commencement of the registration in order to streamline the registration process and facilitate workers to obtain registration. For workers who meet the qualifications for registration set out in the Construction Workers Registration Ordinance, the procedures are very simple. For example, plant and equipment operators holding relevant certificates can apply for registration as skilled or semi-skilled workers for the trade provided that they can produce the relevant certificates and the "Green Card" (i.e. proof of the completion of the relevant safety training course specified in Section 6BA of the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance). Furthermore, with the help of the relevant trade unions, the Authority has speeded up the verification of provisional registration applications.
As regards the course framework, enrolment pre-requisites and examination requirements for revalidation courses for loadshifting machinery, these have to be endorsed by the Advisory Committee on Certification of Operators of Specified Plants and Equipment appointed by the LD. At its meeting on June 8, 2006, the Committee, after discussion, decided to relax the pre-requisites for operators of loadshifting machines to attend revalidation courses. Operators who meet the following requirements are considered fulfilling the said pre-requisite requirements for attending the courses:
(i) with current employer's certification showing that the operator has operated the type of loadshifting machinery concerned for at least six working days; or
(ii) with one and a half years' experience in operating the type of loadshifting machinery concerned in the past five years; or
(iii) with six months' experience in operating the type of loadshifting machinery concerned in the preceding year.
As for self-employed operators, taking into consideration that it is difficult for them to obtain employers' certification on their work experience, a self-declaration of work experience made in front of a Commissioner for Oaths will be accepted as proof of such experience.
On training courses held outside working hours, the Construction Industry Training Authority, upon the LD's request, has been organising training courses in evenings and during holidays to facilitate attendance by serving workers. The LD has also encouraged commercial course providers to follow suit.
As regards course fees, they are determined by the course providers. Nevertheless, the LD has requested them to lower the course fees as far as possible to ease the financial burden on the trainees.
End/Wednesday, November 22, 2006