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Hong Kong MTR

MTR staff upset over lowest pay rise offer in seven years

Top performers among nearly 18,000 workers would get 5.1 per cent rise, while worst performers would see just 1.7 per cent uptick

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 July, 2017, 5:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 July, 2017, 11:40pm

Railway workers have been offered rises of between 1.7 per cent and 5.1 per cent, the lowest in seven years, provoking a backlash from staff who complain of an increasing workload and manpower shortages.

The Hong Kong Federation of Railway Trade Unions, which represents 4,000 MTR workers from four railway unions, said it was not happy with the offer but had no plans for industrial action, so far.

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“We are disappointed about the rise, as it was less than what we demanded,” the federation’s rights director, Wong Yuen-wood, said after meeting MTR Corporation management on Wednesday. It had demanded an increase of at least 5 per cent for all staff.

Under the pay offer, top performers from among 15,400 non-managerial jobs will receive a 5.1 per cent rise, with worst performers getting just 1.7 per cent.

Wong said more than half of staff would receive a rise of only 3.4 per cent, the worst since 2010 when workers were offered between 1.1 per cent and 3.3 per cent. Last year, there was a rise of between 1.85 per cent to 5.6 per cent.

The company said staff would also receive a bonus of between 1.15 times and 1.82 times their monthly wage, depending on performance.

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The federation unsuccessfully asked at the meeting that MTR Corp take into account the seniority of staff when considering annual pay awards, with bigger increases going to those who had worked longer for the company.

However the railway operator did offer an additional day of annual leave for every five years worked by staff.

We are now facing a shortage of manpower
Lam Shiu-wai, Federation of Railway Trade Unions

The federation also unsuccessfully asked for an extra payment of 1.5 times the regular wage for those working night shifts instead of the 1.35 times being offered.

“After the company increased the train frequencies, our workload has increased. We are now facing a shortage of manpower,” federation chairman Lam Shiu-wai said, adding there were cases when staff at some stations worked 100 hours of overtime a month.

Lam said workers’ demands were justified by also taking into account the rate of inflation and business performance. MTR Corp recorded a profit of HK$10.25 billion last year, down 21.1 per cent from the previous year.

“Many of our staff have to work overtime these days. Some of them cannot even take leave because of manpower problems,” Lam said.

He said that when incidents happened at stations, it often took 20 to 30 minutes for support staff to arrive, which was just too long. As a result, there should be more manpower.

“The MTR recorded more than HK$10 billion of net profit last year. Why isn’t that possible?” he asked.

MTR Corp said it had taken into account pay rises offered by 30 companies, and its mechanism had worked effectively over the years.