EOC Organises Conference on "Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value"
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has today (18 March 2000) organised a conference on "Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value". More than 300 people attended, representing government, employers, women's organisations, trade unions, human resource practitioners and the academia.
In her welcome address, Ms. Anna WU, Chairperson of EOC, explained that the conference was intended to bring the concept of "Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value" into the public arena for discussion. "We support the implementation of 'Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value'", said Ms. Wu, "and believe that achieving it is necessary to eliminating pay disparity on the ground of sex."
Ms. Wu also said, "The Sex Discrimination Ordinance provides that it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee on the ground of sex in the terms of employment." In addition, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which was applicable to Hong Kong, provided for the right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work.
Speakers at the conference included Ms. Constance THOMAS of the International Labour Office (ILO); the Hon. LEE Cheuk-yan, Member of the Legislative Council and General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions; Mr. Mathew CHEUNG, the Commissioner for Labour; Professor SUNG Yun-wing of the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Ms. Carole PETERSEN, Associate Professor of the University of Hong Kong and a member of the Association of Business and Professional Women; and Mr. Patrick MAULE, Director of Aon Consulting and an expert in human resource management.
Ms. Constance Thomas told the conference that the principle of equal pay for work of equal value was recognised by ILO to be of special and urgent importance and that this principle was set out in the ILO Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No.100). She went on to outline the provisions of Convention No. 100 and gave a brief situational analysis of pay inequality between men and women world-wide as well as the approaches and challenges to the application of this principle. She said it was a measure of its international acceptance that as of February 2000, Convention No.100 has been ratified by 143 member States out of the total membership of 174. It was the second most highly ratified international labour standard. She said that positive action measures were being taken by a number of ratifying States to implement the Convention in practice and that there has been a marked increase in countries taking initiatives in this direction.
Ms. Thomas said existing wage differentials between women and men varied from country to country with women, on average, typically earning two thirds of male incomes. She stated that "Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value" was an important tool to combat wage inequality and stressed the need for a comprehensive approach for its implementation.
The other speakers at the conference provided various perspectives on the principle of "Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value". Issues raised included current wage gaps between women and men in Hong Kong and the need for enactment of legislation and wider publicity on "Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value" to address these gaps. The pros and cons of implementing "Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value" were also discussed, as well as the fact that Hong Kong stood to benefit from the experiences of other countries who had tried and tested different strategies for implementation.
The conference ended with the EOC announcing that it has set up a task force to look into how best to support the Government's initiatives to progressively implement the principle of "Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value", as guaranteed by CEDAW. This task force comprised representatives from government, the private sector and independent experts.
Enquiry: EOC Hotline 25118211