Civil servant pay could be cut following survey

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am


Civil servants could be facing a pay cut following a salary survey.

Secretary for the Civil Service Denise Yue Chung-yee told the Legislative Council's public service panel she could not guarantee that the almost 170,000 civil servants would not have their salaries reduced.

Yue was briefing on three concurrent surveys - on starting salaries, pay levels and pay trends - which are to be conducted by the Standing Commission on Civil Service Salaries and Conditions of Service.

She said it was 'too early to say' if the figures obtained by the mass-scale, six-yearly pay-level survey would suggest a downward adjustment. She cited changes in the labour market structure and an as yet unconfirmed mechanism to be adopted by the independent commission, which advises the chief executive on pay issues.

'We have previously had three pay cuts for civil servants and each was backed up with sufficient reasons and legislative process,' Yue said. 'But it is too early to predict whether, following this survey, the commission will suggest pay cuts.' The recommendations on pay levels are not expected this year.

Yue (pictured) was responding to a request from Lee Cheuk-yan, Labour Party lawmaker, for a pledge that there would be no pay cuts. Lee expressed concerns over civil servants' morale.

According to a decision in 2007 made by the Chief Executive in Council - a collective decision of the Hong Kong chief executive and the Executive Council - civil servants are subject to a pay adjustment if the salary survey finds a wage difference of more than 5 per cent between the median civil service pay and the upper quartile of their private-sector counterparts. 'Amid the current economic turmoil, the survey could easily find a pay difference of more than 5 per cent and advise a salary cut,' Lee said. 'That will affect the stability of the working teams.'

But Yue said the implementation of the city's statutory minimum hourly wage in May last year might have affected the structure of the labour market - and the survey findings.

The civil service chief said the bureau would consult the main civil service unions after receiving suggestions from the commission.