Legislator seeks lower civil service pay cut

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 October, 2009, 12:00am

Independent legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee is seeking to amend the proposed pay cut for senior civil servants, calling for a reduction of 1.59 per cent instead of the 5.38 per cent proposed by the government.

Despite repeated objections by lawmakers yesterday during scrutiny of the bill, the government reiterated that the pay-cut proposal would not be withdrawn or amended, regardless of recent signs of economic recovery.

Two major civil service unions, the Police Force Council Staff Side and the 100,000-strong Chinese Civil Servants' Association, have queried the inclusion of two large companies among the 121 surveyed to determine this year's key pay trend findings.

If the two companies were excluded from the survey, senior staff would only face a pay cut of 1.59 per cent, rather than the 5.38 per cent proposed by the administration. Permanent Secretary for the Civil Service Andrew Wong Ho-yuen rejected the amendment proposed by Ip, a former secretary for security.

'The Executive Council acknowledged the concerns raised by some civil service unions when it endorsed the pay-cut proposal ... we followed the established mechanism and the two companies will not be excluded.' Wong said the government had no plan to withdraw or amend the plan.

'It doesn't mean that we don't take market changes into consideration,' he said. 'Recent changes in the local economy will be fully reflected and considered in next year's annual pay trend survey.'

Bills committee chairman Ip Kwok-him, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which backs the government's proposal, said he had not seen sufficient grounds for supporting a reduction in the pay cut.

'Our stance is very clear,' he said. 'The established mechanism should be followed and respected, otherwise it would be useless.'

In June, the Executive Council decided to follow private-sector pay trends and introduce legislation to cut the pay of senior civil servants by 5.38 per cent. The pay reduction, which will affect about 18,200 civil servants, will take effect from the first day of the month after the legislation comes into force.