January 13th, 2012
06:28 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – While ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests perceived excesses of the capital markets, brokers in Hong Kong took to the streets Thursday to demonstrate against cuts in the length of their lunch break.

About 1,000 brokers, stock exchange staff and restaurant workers spent their 90-minute lunch break protesting against plans to cut their lunch hour to – well, an hour. Until last year, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange had a two-hour lunch break – the longest in the world for major bourses.

Exchange officials say the move, which is planned for implementation in March, is to keep the exchange competitive with other major exchanges. Japan and Singapore made similar moves last year to reduce the time their exchanges are closed to trading for lunch.

But protest organizer Patrick Lam, chairman of the 150-member Hong Kong Securities & Futures Employees Union, said further moves to erode their lunch break to increase trading hours ignores the way local brokers do business.

“Trading securities is not just an individual playing at the computer like a game – you need to communicate with clients and close out your latest sales,” Lam said. “We have more individual clients than (other markets).”

Indeed, the people of Hong Kong like to play the stock market – about 35% of the city’s 7 million residents own shares, according to the World Federation of Exchanges. In 2006, the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing reported that 28.3% of residents actively traded stocks during the year.

But the proportion of local investors as a ratio of total trading appears to be declining. According to a February 2011 report from the exchange, only 44% of transactions in 2010 were from local investors, down from 50% the year before and the lowest level since the transaction survey started in 1991.

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Bruno

    They should cut lunch break to 45 mins.

    January 13, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  2. rene

    There is no lunch break in the singapore market or new york and neither in mumbai
    Hong Kong stock brokers are lazy and have no place in a fast developing market.
    the HK brokerages are a hiding place for unqualified people who only just managed to get a trading license.
    I trade exclusively on the HK market and to my experience the HK brokers are only interested in making their trade commissions.
    there is a lot of money to be made out here but I'm sorry to say that the lazy brokers are not the ones that will point you the investor i the right direction

    January 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  3. John

    I'm in the securities industry and get an hour which the vast majority of the time I cut short. Doesn't it make sense if you have more individual clients it takes longer to contact all of them leading to less of a lunch than others? In fact the opposite is true of what Lam stated and the protest organizer's point completely contradicts his position. Get on the level with the global economy or get left behind. Simple as pie.

    January 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  4. Echo

    It may make sense from the numbers point of view, but from the practical and human point of view it's better for employees to have enough break time and be rested to perform better.

    I know from personal experience that tired employees actually do less working 10 hours non-stop than working an 8 shift with a good lunch break in between. And that's not even counting the loses from mistakes caused by exhaustion. And it doesn't matter if it's the guy doing the clening of the offices, or the guy dealing with the clients, or the guy serving you the food. A tired employee is a liability.

    That is why the lunch break is important regardless of your job.

    January 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  5. Lester

    Just be glad you have a job and stop grumbling.

    January 13, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  6. James

    15 mins would be enough considering that it is a very dinamyc market. Otherwise they could lose money. The more time Idle the more money lost.

    January 16, 2012 at 3:27 am |
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    January 27, 2012 at 1:05 am |
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