One of the unions representing high-income civil servants refused to endorse an annual government study despite a proposed higher pay increase than lower-earning employees.
The Senior Government Officers Association, one of the three senior employee groups, boycotted a meeting to verify the report yesterday as they questioned the credibility of the study.
Wilfred Wong Kam-pui, chairman of the Pay Trend Survey Committee that compiled the study, defended the mechanism of the study as being "perfectly trustworthy".
"I have full confidence towards the system," said Wong yesterday. "The mechanism creditably reflects the pay trend for over 100 private companies in the past year."
He said there was no motive for companies that took part in the programme to lie about their pay trends and the government would not verify whether the claims were accurate.
Wong said he was disappointed that yesterday's meeting was attended by only five representatives from two groups, but he rejected doubts that the findings were marred by the low attendance. The committee recommends pay increases of 3.8 per cent, 4.71 per cent and 5.96 per cent for government employees in the lower, middle and upper salary bands, respectively.
Wong stressed yesterday that he understood there were different expectations from various groups, but stressed the mechanism was not designed to address public expectations.
The yearly study is conducted by the government to observe pay trends from the private sector as a guide to determining wage rises, excluding annual increments, for the public sector, he said.
The SGOA's decision yesterday falls in line with three other police unions - the Police Inspectors' Association, Overseas Inspectors' Association and Junior Police Officers' Association (JPOA) - and the Disciplined Services Consultative Council who quit the committee in June last year in protest at the pay rises offered at the time.
Even the groups who endorsed the study yesterday expressed some doubts.
Model Scale 1 Staff Consultative Council's Li Wai-yee said she supported the report but was very disappointed at the proposed pay rise.
"We … respect the mechanism," Li said.
But she added that those in the lower salary band still hoped the pay rise would be in line with the inflation rate.
The Chinese Civil Servants' Association, which represents senior public servants, also endorsed the report.
"But we hope the methodology of the study can be improved so that it better reflects the actual situation of the private sector," association representative Li Kwai-yin said.