From ‘free’ trade to ‘fair’ trade: protectionism and the regulation of industrial employment in colonial Hong Kong, 1958-62
AbstractThe late 1960s was a ‘major watershed’ for the evolution of labour laws in Hong Kong because social disturbances during 1966 and 1967 caused a ‘crucial shift of establishment attitudes’. Employers, who were ‘severely jolted’ by the events, quickly accepted thereafter the need for ‘legislative reform’.1 Legal rights extended to workers before this watershed, but, because local bureaucrats had sought the consent of employers’ organisations before legislating, ‘labour legislation was slow to emerge and, when it did emerge, was often in an emasculated form’.2 In the pre-war period the state regulated industrial employment by women and children and policed ‘industrial safety’; and the Governor gained the power (never subsequently used) to set minimum wages.3 In 1959, an existing ordinance that regulated the hours of factory work undertaken by women and young persons was amended. 4 The maximum hours of industrial work by women was set at sixty per week (ten per day), and all women and young persons (aged between 14-16) gained the right to one rest day per week.5 From March 1962, industrial workers had the statutory right to six days paid holiday and twelve days paid sick leave each year. These entitlements were, however, limited in scope,6 and did not cover all industrial workers. Factories registered with the state and were subject to inspections, but small workshops did not register with, and were not regulated by, the state.7 By the end of the 1950s, statutory protections did not therefore extend to a large proportion of the industrial work force. From 1952-57 (a period for which estimates exist), factory employment grew by fifty per cent, from 100,000 to 150,000; employment in unregistered workshops, however, expanded by one hundred per cent, from 50,000 to 100,000.8
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by CHERRY, c/o Department of Economics, University of York in its series Centre for Historical Economics and Related Research at York (CHERRY) Discussion Papers with number 06/02.
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: c/o Sue Bowden, Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, United Kingdom
Phone: (0)1904 323776
Fax: (0)1904 323759
Web page: http://www.york.ac.uk/res/cherry/
More information through EDIRC
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-03-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-HIS-2007-03-03 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-LAB-2007-03-03 (Labour Economics)
You can help add them by filling out this form.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Doriana Delfino) The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Doriana Delfino to update the entry or send us the correct address.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.