Delay on $1.5 m back pay claim

THE High Court has reserved judgement in an action against the Government brought by two civil servants involved in intelligence work who are claiming underpayment of about $1.5 million.

The widow of Mr George Lau, who died aged 42 last October, and Mr Hugh Ollerenshaw, 57, asked Mr Justice Jones for a declaration that they are entitled to the back pay, which also affects their pensions.

When Mr Lau accepted the sensitive job as an assistant police research officer within the police force he was told the pay was equal to that of a chief inspector. Mr Ollerenshaw was also told there would be parity.

The problem arose in 1989 when police were put on a separate pay scale and given a 12.5 per cent rise.

In June 1991, 36 intelligence officers were awarded $28 million after the Government settled the case in court. However, Mr Lau and Mr Ollerenshaw joined after the new police scale was introduced and the Government refused to settle with them.

Mr Ollerenshaw applied for the job in January 1989. Just 10 days later the police got their pay rise, backdated to April 1988. Counsel claimed it was difficult to work out when, if ever, parity between the two posts was severed.