Speech of the Hon K P Chan, JP at the Legislative Council on 5 May 2010 Motion Debate On Medical Check-up for Professional Drivers
MR PRESIDENT: Both the original Motion and Amendments concerns healthiness of professional drivers. In her proposed Amendments, the Hon Li Fung-ying specifically mentions that professional drivers are working exceptionally long hours and their healthiness is adversely affected. She asks employers to allow sufficient rest period for driver. Furthermore, she urges the Government to allocate resources to study medical check-up for professional drivers by public sector medical service. I fully agree to and support these two proposals.
In the last few months, there have been repeated traffic accidents involving professional drivers of poor physical health. Their work pressure and healthiness are causes for public concern.
In Hong Kong, working environment is becoming more strenuous as the economy progresses. Working hours are long. Meal breaks are irregular. These are but two frustrations of the labour force. Not only personal health is affected, but also personal relations with parents, children, spouse as well as friends.
Actually, the question of excessively long working hour in Hong Kong has not improved in recent years. It is becoming worse instead. If the Government does not take steps promptly to relieve work pressure of wage earners, it would not be too long before the problem reaches the critical point and becomes intolerable. By then, the call for legislative means of resolving employee/employer conflicts would be even louder and the whole community would pay even higher social and political prices.
I always say that employees and employers are not confrontational. On the contrary, employees are the most valuable assets of employers, and they deserve decent treatments. Enterprises have the indubitable responsibility to provide reasonable terms of employment and sufficient recess breaks during work are basic requirement. On the other hand, the Government has an important role to play in promoting labour harmony.
It is against this background that I have moved earlier in this Council to urge the Government to take the lead in promoting the new occupation culture of work/life balance. The Motion called for the Government to provide incentives for companies to implement more flexible working hours and other work/life rebalancing measures as well as to encourage companies to introduce other measures in meeting specific needs of their staff in work/life rebalancing.
In my view, the Government should take the problem of excessively long working hours seriously and redress it timely before it gets really worse.
The Hon Li Fung-ying also proposes to study the provision of medical check-up for professional drivers by the public medical sector and to encourage professional drivers to undertake regular check-up with a view to safeguarding road safety and driver healthiness. I could not agree more.
At the meeting of this Council on 11 March 2009, I already moved to promote medical check-up for all people and the Motion was unanimously carried. I wish that the Government would realize it early. For instance, we could start with an annual check-up for people aged 40 and above. Everybody including professional drivers would benefit from early diagnoses and treatments. Apart from reducing traffic accident, it would also reduce public medical expenses substantially in the long run. I look forward to the Government putting my carried Motion in practice at the earliest.
Mr President, with these remarks, I support the Motion.