A controversial review of civil service pay could be completed as early as September, the government said yesterday. If the study recommended a pay cut, it would be possible to legislate this year. The government is to meet civil service unions today to discuss the study, which would compare civil service pay levels with the wages of workers in the private sector. In a paper to the unions, the Civil Service Bureau said it wanted to draw up details of the survey which would start from next month and last until June. It would take 45 days to collect job and pay data, and two months would be needed to analyse the data, with the results ready by the end of September. The bureau said it would not carry out the pay comparison on a job-by-job basis and only a few grades would be selected for comparison. Joseph Wong Wing-ping, the Secretary for Civil Service, said yesterday that a decision had yet to be made on the timetable. 'If both sides have reached a consensus [on the methodology], then the timetable is not a problem,' he said. Leung Chau-ting, chairman of the Federation of Civil Service Unions, said it would be too hasty to complete the survey by September. 'The pay trend survey, which is quite easy to conduct, needs four months to complete. It would certainly need more time to compare the pay level of jobs between the public and private sector,' he said. A pay trend survey is usually conducted every year on pay adjustments in the private sector. This is then used as a reference for determining pay for civil servants. 'If the government has already decided to slash our pay, then there is no point conducting the survey anyway,' he said.