Legislators wrote to the Executive Council yesterday, urging it to give junior civil servants a pay rise in line with inflation. The intervention was made on the eve of the Exco meeting to discuss the staff's call for a bigger increase. Legislators attending the public services panel yesterday said the Government's proposed 7.67 per cent increment for junior staff would cause many to suffer as it was below inflation. The concern was raised by Democratic Party member Cheung Man-kwong, who said more than 88 per cent of civil servants earning less than $8,000 a month had reached the top of their pay scale. Unlike other civil servants, they would not be automatically awarded a merit increment on top of the annual pay adjustment. 'This means their living standards will deteriorate because they will be given a rise less than the inflation rate [7.93 per cent on average],' Mr Cheung said. He said he had no dispute with the increase for middle and higher ranking staff, but was concerned about the fairness of the mechanism that decides pay rises. Another unionist, Lee Cheuk-yan, accused the Government of attempting to form 'a Government-merchant collusion'. 'If the Government adopts a below inflation pay rise this year, companies across the territory must follow. And the pay adjustment of workers will be further pressed down next year.' But Secretary for Civil Service Lam Woon-kwong told members the mechanism was the result of negotiation between management and staff representatives in 1989. 'Any change to the system will only give rise to unnecessary rows,' he said. 'The basic philosophy of the mechanism is to follow the market.' It is believed some Exco members agree that giving a bigger rise to higher-paid staff is unfair.