Civil service pay gap too small to justify revisions, Exco rules

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2007, 12:00am

The gap between the pay of civil servants and private-sector workers is not big enough to warrant adjusting civil service salaries, the Executive Council ruled yesterday after a government-commissioned survey found the pay differential was less than 5 per cent.

The survey divided civil servants into five pay bands. It found median pay in three bands, including the top one, was 5 per cent less than median pay for equivalent private-sector jobs; but the most junior civil servants and those in the middle ranks earned 3 to 5 per cent more, respectively, than their equivalents in 97 private-sector companies.

Had an adjustment been ordered, 100,000 civil servants would have seen their pay rise and 55,000 would have suffered pay cuts, at a net cost to taxpayers of HK$180 million a year.

Defending the decision, Secretary for the Civil Service Denise Yue Chung-yee denied the data had been tampered with to spare civil servants a pay cut. 'The findings are not tailor-made,' she said, when asked about discrepancies with a similar survey carried out for the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce in 2002. It found that the median pay of civil servants was 34 per cent higher than the equivalent private-sector figure, and that the median total remuneration of civil servants was 229 per cent of that in the private sector.

Miss Yue said private-sector salaries had rebounded strongly since 2002, while civil servants had had several pay cuts. In 2002, civil service pay was cut by between 1.58 and 4.42 per cent. Civil service unions agreed to pay cuts of 3 per cent in each of the next two years.

Chinese Civil Servants' Association vice-president Li Kwai-yin said the government's survey had not compared like with like.

Howard Young, the Liberal Party lawmaker who chairs the Legislative Council's public services panel, said small- and medium-sized companies might not accept its findings.

Civil servants may still get a pay rise, depending on the outcome of a separate survey of private-sector salary increases due next month.