MOST employees of Hong Kong's biggest companies will receive bonuses this month despite the economic downturn. An informal survey of 10 of the largest locally based employers revealed that nine planned to pay their workers the traditional 13th-month bonus. The remaining company has yet to make an announcement. The bonus is written in contracts at some companies and cannot be eliminated without workers' consent. Other companies do not have the bonus clause in their contracts with employees, but still plan to give the extra month's pay. But it is less certain whether the traditional bonus will survive in the future. Hongkong Telecom and TVB plan to reduce or eliminate the bonus in coming years. Both companies made profits this year, but earnings have dropped compared with last year. Unionists say employees at many small and medium-sized firms have already lost their one-month bonus. 'Big companies usually give the year-end 'double-pay'. They want to maintain their reputation and stabilise employee morale, but smaller companies probably won't give it,' Mak Tak-ching, organising secretary for the Confederation of Trade Unions, said. But even large companies planning to pay bonuses appear set not give any more than one month's pay. In previous years, bonuses of two months' - and in some cases three months' - pay was awarded. It is unclear whether the companies will give pay rises in 1999. Most do not start reviewing salaries until next year, with salary changes effective from July 1. However, most firms said they were going ahead with plans to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. While most companies said they would not cut back on holiday budgets, some said they would celebrate in a 'sensible' way. Quince Chong Wai-yan, Cathay Pacific's manager of corporate communications, said: 'We haven't received any notice from the company to cut back on celebrations, but throughout the year, we've had many cost-cutting measures and reminders to spend money in a particular way.' Instead of eating out at a restaurant, Ms Chong said she planned to hire a caterer to serve food at the airport for staff in her department. 'The size and scale of the festivities is not that important. The point is to thank employees for their work,' she said.