Two-thirds of police sign letters for better pay

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 November, 2008, 12:00am

Protest letters signed by 19,000 police officers - more than two-thirds of the Hong Kong force - are to be handed to a government advisory body tomorrow in an unprecedented campaign for higher pay.

The chairmen of the four police associations have asked to hand the boxes of letters, collected in just a fortnight, directly to the new chairman of the Standing Committee on Disciplined Services Salaries and Conditions of Service, Barry Cheung Chun-yuen.

A covering letter to Mr Cheung from the four chairmen calls for a 'proper consultation' over the current police pay review in the light of the letter campaign, 'signed by officers of all ranks form constable to chief superintendent'.

The associations want the standing committee, which Mr Cheung took over last week after the resignation of beleaguered Citic Pacific boss Henry Fan Hung-ling, to delay its recommendations to the government until at least next month.

Police want pay scales upgraded to add an average of about HK$1,700 a month to wages, but the standing committee has so far indicated it favours only a token increment amounting to about a third of that figure.

The police pay claim cites special so-called 'X Factors' in policing - including the nature of their work, the lack of special medical cover and the need to stop middle-ranking officers deserting - which they say have been overlooked in the pay review.

Representatives from the four associations will call tomorrow afternoon at the standing committee's headquarters at the Lippo Centre in Queensway where they hope to meet Mr Cheung and other committee members.

However, there was last night no confirmation that the Mr Cheung would be available to meet the association representatives although the standing committee has agreed in principle to accept the boxes of letters. The identical letters complain of low morale in the force and call on the committee to accept the pay claim.

A spokesman for the Police Force Council Staff Associations said: 'This campaign has been quite unprecedented. Even the most optimistic of us could never have expected 19,000 letters to be signed.'

The review is the city's first of police pay scales for 20 years. The standing committee is to submit its recommendations to the government this month, followed by a public consultation.