New recruits getting raw deal

I would like to express my shock and disappointment over the plans put forward by the Director for Social Welfare, Andrew Leung Kin-pong last month, to drastically cut wages for new social work/welfare recruits by 30 per cent, whilst maintaining the salaries of all current employees at their existing levels.

These plans contradict the values of 'respect and fairness' which the Social Welfare Department is supposed to uphold. I understand that Hong Kong is facing an economic recession and that there is pressure on departments to cut back on spending.

However I cannot agree with the argument that new social work graduates should be made to shoulder the full burden of these cutbacks.

If Mr Leung wants to save resources, I would suggest that a five per cent reduction of salary of all staff in the whole department would be more appropriate than singling out one group.

Mr Leung should not penalise the group of people who are in the most vulnerable position, namely new social work graduates. I wonder if he has thought about the divisive consequences of this action within the department itself.

Within the department, some people will be 'protected' and will be able to retain all their privileges while they work next to those people who are not so fortunate. Those who invested their own savings and time to obtain higher qualifications, such as a degree in social work, will feel they have been cheated.

I hope that Mr Leung will set a good example by cutting his own salary by 30 per cent. This would show him as a man of integrity with regard to this matter.

However, I am concerned that the real aim of this policy is simply to protect the lifestyles of those already in power at the expense of the newcomers.

If this is so, the long-term consequences for the department will be serious, as it will fail to attract the sort of high quality applicants needed to perform the increasingly demanding job of being a social worker in Hong Kong.

J. FONG New Territories