Right to Work

“The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right ……. to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques ……”

(extracted from Article 6 of ICESCR )


“The States to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favorable conditions of work which ensure …. fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work… Safe and healthy working conditions; equal opportunity; rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays.”

(extracted from Article 7 of ICESCR)

Everyone should have equal right to work. We all hope to secure a stable job. The trend of globalization has brought problems of widespread layoff, unemployment, underemployment and wage reduction.


As Hong Kong is undergoing substantive economic restructuring and is turning more to a knowledge-based economy A total of 700,000 unskillful and semi-skilled workers, particularly the middle-aged and elderly ones, are being kicked out of the labour market. Losing the job means that they also lose their self-dignity and means of living. However, the Government lacks an overall industrial policy, the result of which is driving the marginal workers to prolonged unemployment. Some 60,000 old-age workers are living from hand to mouth. The “survivors” in the market are yielded to humiliating working conditions that drive them to virtual slavery. Their wages are low and they are not protected by the long arm of the labour law.


SoCO has conducted detailed study of the crisis and problems of young, middle-aged and elderly workers. Together with these workers, we exposed their grievances and needs to the Government. We urge the Government to review the vocational training programme, create job opportunities and implement a universal retirement scheme in order to make everybody fully enjoy equal working opportunity and acceptable working environment.

Social reality

  • 3,500 households receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) for low income
  • Over 140,000 persons (2018) of working elderly and only 11.5% (2018) of labour participation rate
  • 142,000 cases of elderly people receive CSSA for no income.
  • Over 140,000 elderly people aged 65 or above were unable to participate in the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF), and there was no sufficient retirement protection in their old age.
  • Low-income working elderly are mostly engaged in the work of security officer, cleaning, handyman and scavenging

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