HOW TO READ THE NEWS - SAMPLE ANSWERS: Equal pay: an ongoing issue [July 25, 2018]

HOW TO READ THE NEWS - SAMPLE ANSWERS: Equal pay: an ongoing issue [July 25, 2018]

Are Hongkongers earning enough money to live?

Q: Which two interest groups are getting the lowest increases in salary, according to the article’s lead sentence?

A: Women and senior citizens.

Q: According to the article, what is Hong Kong’s current minimum wage?

A: HK$34.5 per hour.

Q: According to Lee Cheuk-yan, what should businesses be ashamed of?

A: The gender pay gap.

Q: What do you think Lee means by the phrase “the fruits of economic growth”?

A: Lee wants to say that despite Hong Kong enjoying a good economy, and more money in the city overall, these benefits do not show in the salary increases for women and senior citizens as much as in other people’s.

Q: Why are South Korea and Taiwan mentioned in the last two paragraphs? How does Lee compare them to Hong Kong?

A: South Korea and Taiwan were mentioned as successful cases of wage increases; Lee uses them as examples for what Hong Kong could do.

Q: What exactly is a union, and what side of the debate are they on?

A: A union is a gathering of workers in a certain field, to increase their negotiating power. They are for increasing the minimum wage.

Q: What are some reasons for raising the minimum wage?

A: The current minimum wage cannot support a good standard of living, especially not in the pricey city of Hong Kong. Additionally, people should be treated with dignity even if they work in jobs that might not traditionally be considered “respectable”.

Q: What are some reasons to keep the minimum wage where it is?

A: This would put the burden of paying them onto business owners, who might not be making all that much money in the first place. The rate of company bankruptcy might go up, and the economy will not be as good.

Q: Do you think raising the minimum wage is one way of keeping elderly people occupied? What other ways can the elderly be motivated to participate in society?

A: Yes, because it will encourage old people to work more. The government can offer different incentives for elderly people for rejoining the workforce, or for carrying on traditions in fields that they have long worked in. Additionally, senior citizens can be encouraged to pass on their knowledge and skills to younger generations through outreach programmes or other inclusive measures.

Q: What do you think is the cause of a gender pay gap? What are some ways to correct it?

A: Hong Kong is a very backwards place; same-sex couples weren’t even allowed the same benefits as opposite-sex couples until recent judicial decisions. Part of the problem is the reluctance to change; if the minimum wage has worked and is working, then why change it? The government can and should treat such initiatives as important parts of the working society; while concerns about the minimum wage being “too” low cannot easily be contained in cost-benefit calculations, the benefits are intangible, but important.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Equal pay: an ongoing issue


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