Workers in Hong Kong are to receive a guaranteed basic wage after lawmakers approved a government proposal to introduce a minimum wage law early Saturday after 41 hours of debate.

But workers have to wait a few more months to find out the wage level because a provisional minimum wage commission will not start to consider the issue until August.

Trade unions have called for a minimum wage of 33 Hong Kong dollars (4.23 US dollars), but some legislators have proposed a hourly wage of 20 Hong Kong dollars.

Labour and Welfare Minister Matthew Cheung said approval of the plan, which came 10 years after the proposal was first mooted, “marks a very important milestone in the protection of our labour, particularly grass—root workers in Hong Kong.” “In the next few months, a lot of work has to be done, particularly in, for example, the determining of the initial rate and also to do all the preparatory work leading to the implementation of minimum wage in the first half of next year,” he added The minimum wage level will be reviewed at least once every two years. Some foreign domestic workers, including maids and drivers from countries including the Philippines and Thailand, have been excluded from the law.

Commenting on possible job losses if employers are unable to pay, Mr. Cheung said: “We will be watching the situation carefully and do what we can to help those displaced because of this new measure, help to retrain them and if necessary, provide social security for them.”

More In: International | News