Union pushes for pay increases for school clerks and janitors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2008, 12:00am

The Hong Kong School Clerks and Janitors General Union has demanded a pay rise of 6 per cent to keep up with inflation, after a survey found that nearly half of them received no increase for the 2007-08 school year.

Forty-five per cent of the respondents were not given pay rises according to the union's poll, which interviewed 818 school staff including clerks, janitors, teaching assistants and technicians over the past six months.

About 37 per cent were given a pay rise of 1.3 per cent, and nearly 1 per cent suffered pay cuts. Only 4 per cent had salary increases of more than 3 per cent.

'Civil servants and those who work at subsidised organisations enjoyed a pay rise of up to 6.3 per cent,' said union organiser Lo Wing-kei. 'School principals and teachers are all given reasonable salary increments but clerks, janitors, teaching assistants and technicians are not given anything. This is unfair.'

The group will stage a march on Sunday from Chater Garden to the Central Government Offices to voice their demands.

'We demand the government increase the Operating Expenses Block Grant for schools so that principals have more money to give pay rises to these school staff,' Ms Lo said. 'The administration should also adjust the grant amount according to inflation.'

A spokeswoman for the Education Bureau said schools had the flexibility to adjust the salaries scales of their staff, and that the grant was adjusted according to changes in the consumer price index.

'Since the staff at subsidised schools are hired by the school's board of directors, it is inappropriate for the bureau to interfere. But we always appeal to all schools to offer reasonable contract terms to their staff,' she said.

The union found cases of exploitation, mostly at New Territories schools, where janitors were paid even less than the salary level adopted by the government's 'wage protection movement' under which employers are asked to pledge to pay cleaners and security guards no less than the median wage.

'We handled about two cases in Tin Shui Wai in the past two years,' said Ms Lo.

'The janitors were paid HK$4,000 a month and had to work 10 to 12 hours every day. We helped them file complaints with the Education Bureau, and the schools gave them pay rises just large enough to avoid more complaints.'