NETs to get windfall with increase in special allowance plus back pay

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 March, 2009, 12:00am

Teachers on the government's NET scheme will receive a HK$10,360 windfall payment with their monthly salary cheque next week after the Education Bureau approved a 10 per cent increase in the programme's special allowance.

The increase from HK$12,950 to HK$14,245 in the allowance paid to native English-speaking teachers takes effect this month and is backdated to August last year, with the backlog due to be paid with this month's salary.

The outcome of a review demanded by the Native English Speaking Teachers Association (Nesta) two years ago, it reflects average rent increases in 2007 but comes as rents fall and the economy contracts due to the global financial crisis.

Nesta has greeted the news with delight and its social secretary is inviting members of the benefits and welfare committee, who bargained with the government, to a celebratory dinner at Ivan the Kozak restaurant in SoHo tonight.

Nesta chairman Dave Stead said: 'We are very happy that under the present circumstances the bureau has carried through with an increase. We feel it shows that the bureau is keeping faith with the NETs and the NET scheme.

'It would be better to have a more responsive system so that we don't end up in one economic cycle with a claim from another one. But there has already been an improvement in morale among NETs and I expect the lump sum will be very well received.'

Committee chairwoman Lee Weston said: 'Nets have been having incredibly high rents with a very low allowance over the last couple of years and I think we did a fairly good job to get that amount of money under the circumstances.'

A bureau spokeswoman said the allowance was reviewed in accordance with a procedure agreed by the Legislative Council's finance committee in 2005 based on average rent costs for 2007 obtained from the Rating and Valuation Department.

The 10 per cent rise was agreed after considering other factors, such as the scheme's retention rate and whether the government could afford the additional spending, and consulting with Nesta.

'A time lag between the review process and actual adjustment is inevitable for any review exercise as the government needs time to collect relevant data in the course of the review,' the spokeswoman said, adding that there was a similar time lag for civil service pay awards.

Better days

NETs had complained about high rental costs in HK and low allowances

The special monthly allowance for native-English teachers is now HK$14,245, a rise of: 10%