Government backs grant system review

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 February, 2009, 12:00am

Recommendations in a review report on the lump-sum grant system have been endorsed by the government.

The administration accepted the 36 recommendations in the report by a five-member independent review committee, a paper sent to the legislature by the Labour and Welfare Bureau and the Social Welfare Department shows.

The paper will be tabled for discussion in the Legislative Council on Monday.

In the review report released in December, the panel found that the controversial lump-sum grant system used in the social welfare sector for seven years was worth keeping but needed improving.

The committee was appointed by the government in January last year to assess how effective the subvention system was after several thousand social workers took to the streets to protest against it.

Under the system, the government no longer stipulates the salary and staffing structures of welfare organisations, so that they can have greater flexibility to hire staff and add new services.

But workers in non-governmental organisations want their salaries linked to the government's pay scale, among other demands.

Peter Cheung Kwok-che, legislator for the social welfare sector, said social workers were disappointed the panel had made no viable suggestions on ways to improve their pay and had not made a decision on staffing levels.

'The pay issue is a ticking bomb. If the government does not solve it now, it will explode sooner or later,' he said.

'The salary issue seriously affects the morale of social workers.'

He also voiced fears that NGOs would lower salaries when recruiting amid the economic downturn.

Mr Cheung will organise a protest on Sunday. Demonstrators will gather at Chater Garden in Central before marching to the Central Government Offices to voice their discontent.