LegCo Panel on Manpower Meeting on 3 March 1999

Information Paper on the Application of International Labour Conventions in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

The Basic Law

The continued application of International Labour Conventions in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is guaranteed under Article 39 of the Basic Law, which provides that the provisions of the Conventions as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force and shall be implemented through the laws of the HKSAR. Article 147 of the Basic Law further provides that the HKSAR shall on its own formulate laws and policies relating to labour.

Implementation of International Labour Conventions

2. At present, 46 International Labour Conventions are applied in the HKSAR. These Conventions cover a wide variety of subjects including conditions of work, employees compensation, employment policy, human rights, industrial relations, labour administration, and tripartite consultation.

3. Of the 46 Conventions applied in the HKSAR, 31 are applied without modification (i.e. implementation of all provisions of a Convention) and 15 are applied with modification (i.e. implementation of the provisions of a Convention subject to modification of certain provisions to suit local conditions). Very often the International Labour Conventions are expressed in flexible terms such that the particular conditions in a contracting state can be taken into account when implementing the Conventions domestically.

4. If an International Labour Conventions is applied to the HKSAR, the HKSAR Government is obliged to give effect through legislation or administrative measures, or a combination of both, to the provisions of the Convention. In the case of the application of the Employment Policy Convention, 1964 [Convention No. 122] which requires the authority to declare and pursue an active policy designed to promote full, productive and freely chosen employment, for instance, the provisions of the Convention are implemented by relevant legislation including the Apprenticeship Ordinance; Employees Retraining Ordinance; Hong Kong Productivity Council Ordinance; Hong Kong Trade Development Council Ordinance; Industrial Training (Clothing Industry) Ordinance; Industrial Training (Construction Industry) Ordinance; and Vocational Training Council Ordinance. This is supplemented by a range of administrative measures undertaken by the Labour Department and the statutory training bodies.

5. Similarly, if a declaration of application with modification is made in respect of a Convention, legislative and administrative measures are also required to be in place with regard to the provisions which have been accepted.

6. A list of the 46 Conventions applied in the HKSAR is at the Appendix.

Tripartite Consultations on International Labour Standards

7. The Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 [Convention No. 144], which is applied in the HKSAR with modification, imposes an obligation on the HKSAR Government to operate procedures which ensure effective consultation between representatives of the government, of employers and of workers on the activities of the International Labour Organization such as matters concerning international labour standards. In accordance with the provisions of this Convention, matters concerning the application of International Labour Conventions in the HKSAR are considered by a tripartite Committee on the Implementation of International Labour Standards (CIILS) set up under the Labour Advisory Board. Among other things, this Committee is responsible for giving advice on the appropriate declarations to be made by the HKSAR on International Labour Conventions, and the re-examination at appropriate intervals of such declarations with a view to improving them where appropriate.

The Administration's Response to the Report of the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association in respect of the HKSAR Government

8. In November 1998, the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) published a report together with its recommendations on the complaint lodged by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions against the HKSAR Government for breaching the provisions of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 [Convention No. 87] and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 [Convention No. 98] through the enactment of the Employment and Labour Relations (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 1997.

9. The position of the HKSAR Government is that it has not breached the provisions of the said Conventions. Convention No 98 has been applied to Hong Kong without modification since 1975 and Convention No. 87 has been applied with modification since 1963. The modifications in respect of Convention No. 87 cover the qualifications of trade union officers and restrictions on the use of trade union funds for political purposes. Reports on the application of these two and other Conventions which are applicable to the HKSAR are regularly submitted to the ILO, in accordance with the ILO Constitution. The CIILS is consulted on the reports prior to submission.

10. A representative of the HKSAR Government has explained the Government's stand at the meeting of the ILO Governing Body in Geneva on 19 November 1998. The Secretary for Education and Manpower has also elaborated on the Administration's position on the report of the CFA when responding to a motion proposed by the Hon. CHENG Kar-fu on this subject at the Legislative Council meeting on 9 December 1998.

Education and Manpower Bureau
February 1999


List of 46 International Labour Conventions Applied in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Convention NumberTitle
2Unemployment Convention
*3Maternity Protection Convention
5Minimum Age (Industry) Convention
7Minimum Age (Sea) Convention
8Unemployment Indemnity (Shipwreck) Convention
*10Minimum Age (Agriculture) Convention
11Right of Association (Agriculture) Convention
12Workmen's Compensation (Agriculture) Convention
*14Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention
15Minimum Age (Trimmers and Stokers) Convention
16Medical Examination of Young Persons (Sea) Convention
*17Workmen's Compensation (Accidents) Convention
19Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) Convention
22Seamen's Articles of Agreement Convention
23Repatriation of Seamen Convention
29Forced Labour Convention
32Protection against Accidents (Dockers) Convention (Revised)
42Workmen's Compensation (Occupational Diseases) Convention (Revised)
#45Underground Work (Women) Convention
50Recruiting of Indigenous Workers Convention
58Minimum Age (Sea) Convention (Revised)
59Minimum Age (Industry) Convention (Revised)
64Contracts of Employment (Indigenous Workers) Convention
65Penal Sanctions (Indigenous Workers) Convention
74Certification of Able Seamen Convention
81Labour Inspection Convention
*87Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
*90Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) Convention (Revised)
*92Accommodation of Crews Convention (Revised)
97Migration for Employment Convention (Revised)
98Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
101Holidays with Pay (Agriculture) Convention
105Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
108Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention
115Radiation Protection Convention
122Employment Policy Convention
124Medical Examination of Young Persons (Underground Work) Convention
*133Accommodation of Crew (Supplementary Provisions) Convention
*141Rural Workers' Organisations Convention
*142Human Resources Development Convention
*144Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention
*147Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards) Convention
*148Working Environment (Air Pollution, Noise and Vibration) Convention
*150Labour Administration Convention
151Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention
*160Labour Statistics Convention

* Conventions applied with modification; the remaining conventions are applied without modification

# Convention No. 45 will cease to apply in the HKSAR on 28 May 1999.