MTR staff have begun a protest against a "disappointing" 5.25 per cent pay rise by refusing to work overtime and on their days off, two of its staff unions said.
The MTR Corporation Staff Union and KCR Operating Staff Association, which together represent about 2,000 MTR employees, said they told members to start "working to rule" yesterday. Up to 300 members would take part in the protest, they said.
The MTR said non-management employees' wages would rise by between 2.38 per cent and 7 per cent next year and that pay would go up for most employees by more than 4.75 per cent. The average rate of salary increase for all MTR staff worked out to 5.25 per cent, but the unions had demanded a 7 per cent increase.
The MTR Corporation Staff Union's Philip Chan Sin-wo said nine out of 10 employees would get a pay rise of less than 7 per cent and that the protest was to express their disappointment.
"If [the company] asks us to work overtime, that means they haven't hired enough people," Chan said. "In that case, even if there is some impact on the passengers [as a result of the protest], it's not our fault."
But KCR Operating Staff Association's Rainbow Lau Choi-hung said the impact on passengers would be minimal as staff would continue to work on crucial operating and maintenance jobs. They would refuse to attend the company's promotional events on their days off and decline to work overtime, she said.
Two other unions - the MTR Staff General Association and Hong Kong Railway Management Professionals Union - said they were also disappointed but would consult its members before staging any action.
The Professionals Union's Wong Yuen-wood said the average 5.25 per cent pay rise would barely offset inflation. Many of the company's vacancies were not filled because the salaries were not attractive, he added.
The MTR said it had studied salary increase rates in 29 companies that were considered "good employers" before it set its own rates. It said the unions should be rational and put passengers first.