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The Right of Association
The law provides for the right of association and the right of workers to establish and join organizations of their own choosing. Trade unions must be registered under the Trade Unions Ordinance. The basic precondition for registration is a minimum membership of seven persons. The Trade Unions Ordinance does not restrict union membership to a single trade, industry, or occupation. The Government did not discourage or impede the formation of unions. Trade unions were independent of political parties and the Government.
During the year, 29 new unions were registered, while 6 were deregistered; there were 689 registered trade unions. At the end of 2002, over 22 percent of the 3,054,400 salaried employees and wage earners belonged to a labor organization.
The Employment Ordinance includes provisions that protect against anti-union discrimination. Violation of the anti-union discrimination provisions is a criminal offense with a maximum fine of $12,800 (HK$100,000). Employees who allege such discrimination have the right to have their cases heard by the Labor Relations Tribunal. The Tribunal may order reinstatement of the employee, subject to mutual consent of the employer and employee. The Tribunal may award statutory entitlements (severance pay, etc.) and compensation. The maximum amount of compensation is $19,230 (HK$150,000). Some labor activists have complained in the past that the Labor Tribunals tended to push conciliation rather than issue orders.
The Basic Law commits the SAR to 41 International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, and the Government has amended labor legislation and taken administrative measures to comply.
The Employment and Labor Relations (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance permits the cross-industry affiliation of labor union federations and confederations and allows free association with overseas trade unions. Notification of the Labor Department within 1 month of affiliation is required.
« Human Rights Report Introduction
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