Senior civil servants have been encouraged to air their grievances about increasing pressure from the media and politicians. The Senior Non-Expatriate Officers' Association appealed to members in its latest newsletter to speak out against unreasonable criticism. The unprecedented move came after disgruntled senior officers lodged complaints at the annual general meeting in late October. 'We want them to let us know just how serious the problem has become,' chairman Leung Chi-chiu said. Dr Leung said the trend was for the public to lodge complaints against the Government with the media and legislators rather than directly to the departments concerned. The push for a more open administration as well as the financial crisis have aggravated the problem. 'As we go through the adjustment brought by the economic crash, the public might not get what it wants and we will bear the brunt,' Dr Leung said. The Civil Service Bureau is aware of growing pressure on front-line officers and has commissioned a pilot scheme to provide telephone counselling services for 30,000 officers. Seminars on stress management have been held regularly to channel grievances. Dr Leung said the officers in question might be frustrated when legislators or the media failed to back criticism with valid evidence. The pressure would be stronger if top management did not defend their staff. 'Civil servants should be given a reasonable working environment. We don't want the routine upset by the legislature,' he said. The 2,000-strong association representing civil servants earning at least $47,970 a month may take up the issue with the administration or legislators after gauging the severity of the problem.