SCMP Thursday, November 16, 2000


LEGCO

Benchmark test planned for maids after training

EMPLOYMENT by ANGELA LI

Maids would face a benchmark test on completion of two weeks' training by the Employees' Retraining board, under a new proposal.
But Lee Cheuk-yan of the Confederation of Trade Unions said most labour representatives on the board had opposed the idea when it was floated by the secretariat on Tuesday.
He understood the Government was exploring the idea of introducing similar centralised tests for different trades.
Maids currently face a two-week standardised training period funded by the board and will face an internal test on completing the training. Each year, there are 10,000 places on the course.
Mr Lee said introducing a benchmark test would mean workers would face two tests - an internal one and the centralised benchmark test.
Those who pass both will be awarded a card to allow them to register with the Labour Department, which will list their names on the Internet for prospective employers.
But Mr Lee said: "Do we really want to impose so much pressure on home helpers?"
Board chairman Tam Yiu-chung, also an Executive Councillor from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, said the board was still studying the proposal for maids, and had yet to take a stance on it.
"Our aim is not to create worries among home helpers but to facilitate employers to easily get to know which workers are up to standard and can be hired without hesitation," Mr Tam said.
There are 210,000 maids working in Hong Kong from the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India.
Mr Tam said he hoped some of these jobs could be absorbed by local workers, so there would be no need to import so many foreign domestic workers in future. "With such a demand from the labour market, why can't our workers take up more of these jobs?" Mr Tam said.
The matter will be referred to the board's finance and administrative management committee for discussion.