Telecom staff split over pay deal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 November, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 November, 1998, 12:00am

Hongkong Telecom workers are divided over whether to accept a new pay deal or fight it.

Lai Man-wai of the Joint Staff Council, the only company-recognised union, said the package had 'definitely created disunity'.

'About 1,500 people are unaffected, so that decreases our support. The most vociferous objection is coming from those on marginal salaries.' The company exempted employees earning less than $10,000 a month from its variable bonus scheme in which workers will lose payments unless operating profits increase by three per cent under the repackaged proposal announced on Monday.

Signs of moderation were seen as unions agreed to give up their July discretionary payments, traditionally linked to profits, if the company quashed the new proposal which put the 13th-month bonus at risk.

Hongkong Telecom paid $3,000 to every employee in July, $3,500 last year and $4,200 in 1996.

Cable & Wireless (HK) Staff Association spokesman Fung Ping-kwong labelled the deal 'a diffusion package'.

'Those at the top and at the bottom are keeping quiet this time. They both get share options which are comparatively larger than the rest of the 13,500 members,' he said.

Other unions disagreed, however, arguing that 2,000 employees had put their names and staff numbers on a petition against the package, which proved they had widespread support. A sit-in demonstration is also planned for tomorrow night outside Hongkong Telecom's Gloucester Road building in Wan Chai.

Both Cheng Chun-man, of the Hongkong Telecom Employees Union, and Ip Kwok-fun, of the Hongkong Telephone Company Staff Association, said they were unworried about amassing staff support once the implications of the deal were fully understood.

Meanwhile, a University of Hong Kong poll showed about 62 per cent of respondents believed other companies would follow Hongkong Telecom's decision to peg year-end bonuses to profits.