Hong Kong civil service staff representatives angered by lowest pay rise proposal since 2010

Union leaders warn that adoption of figures ranging from 1.38pc to 2.44pc would damage morale and turn people away from government jobs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 3:48pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 May, 2017, 12:30am

Hong Kong civil service staff representatives were up in arms on Thursdayafter a government study proposed they should get the lowest pay rises since 2010 despite the improving economy.

The pay trend survey of private sector companies suggested that civil servants should receive pay rises ranging from 1.38 per cent to 2.44 per cent, depending on where staff are on the civil service pay scale.

Union leaders warned that morale would be hit and talented people would be discouraged from joining the government if the figures were adopted.

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“Of course it will harm the morale of civil servants,” said Steven Wong Hung-lok, chairman of the Senior Government Officers Association. “We are disappointed.”

The government study was presented to the pay trend survey committee, which consists of civil service staff association representatives, on Thursday.

It will harm the morale of civil servants
Steven Wong Hung-lok, Senior Government Officers Association

A total of111 private companies with 156,238 employees were polled to find out the size of their pay rises in the past year. It found that private sector employees received raises of between 2.53 per cent and 3.78 per cent.

But after discounting the effect of civil service annual pay increments for seniority, the study recommended rises of just 1.82 per cent, 2.44 per cent and 1.38 per cent for government staff in the lower, middle and upper salary bands.

A decision on the pay rise will be made by the Executive Council. Its proposal will then be voted on by the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee.

The government has about 178,000 staff on its payroll.

Wong said he was expecting a rise of at least 3 per cent to cover inflation, which was 2.4 per cent last year.

Li Kwai-yin, vice-president of the Chinese Civil Servants’ Association, was also disappointed.

She criticised the government for collecting private sector data from last year to decide on the pay rises for civil servants later this year, saying the figures failed to reflect the improving economic situation.

The city’s economy grew 4.3 per cent in the first quarter – its fastest pace in six years.

In May last year, the annual survey recommended that high earners in the civil service get paid 4.19 per cent more, while those in the middle and lower salary bands should receive increases of 4.68 per cent and 3.08 per cent respectively.

The government adopted the proposals except that those in thelower band were offered a raise of 4.68 per cent.

A Civil Service Bureau spokesman said the Executive Council would consider other factors before making a decision, including the state of Hong Kong’s economy, the government’s fiscal position, changes in the cost of living and civil service morale.

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In 2010, the annual survey recommended rises of just 0.16 per cent, 0.56 per cent and 1.6 per cent for civil servants in the lower, middle and upper salary bands.

The Executive Council eventually decided to revise the rate for those in the lower band to 0.56 per cent, but made no changes to the other two bands.

Separately, Alexa Chow Yee-ping, managing director of AMAC Human Resources Consultants, said that local people would still be attracted to the civil service, pointing to how popular police recruitment days had been despite the controversies facing the force.

Meanwhile, official figures showed that 1,056 civil servants quit their jobs in the 2015-16 fiscal year, the highest for at least 15 years.