Unionists likely to be briefed today on comparison with private sector wages Some 160,000 civil servants are awaiting figures from a survey comparing what they are paid to similar jobs in the private sector which will then be used to determine whether they deserve a pay rise. Government officials carrying out the study are expected to brief unionists and members of a pay review committee today on their findings. Civil servants are hoping they will receive their first pay rise in six years. With the economy said to be in its best shape for 20 years, unionists have demanded that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen grant all staff a pay rise. But others doubted if Mr Tsang, who is poised to formally declare his candidacy for re-election this week, would take the political risk in light of possible objections from the public and the business sector. In the survey, civil service grades are split into five groups. Each group is further divided into five ranks for comparison with their private sector counterparts. Private sector salaries in some jobs are expected to surpass those in the government, but the survey will also reveal that some civil service jobs enjoy higher pay, according to unionists familiar with the survey. The government, however, has given an assurance that the salaries of those doing better than workers in the private sector will be frozen until they are on a par. Secretary for the Civil Service Bureau Denise Yue Chung-yee has said she will not rule out the possibility of a pay rise. The Chinese Civil Servants' Association, the largest staff union, questioned if the government was comparing like with like by merging hundreds of grades into five 'job families'. 'The government may be comparing an orange with an apple. The results lack credibility and there are bound to be disputes,' deputy secretary-general Li Kwai-yin said. Poon Wai-ming, chairman of the Senior Government Officers Association, hoped the government would award a modest pay rise to boost staff morale. But Leung Chau-ting, president of the Federation of Civil Service Unions, predicted Mr Tsang would not award a pay rise because of the forthcoming election. 'I don't think Mr Tsang will take the political risk. He would not want to upset the community and the business sector,' he said. The unionists said the government should take into account the special characteristics of the civil service, such as the need for better salaries to minimise corruption. Executive councillor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, a member of the steering committee on the pay review, felt the election would not influence the chief executive. He said a pay rise could still be awarded even if it was found that government salaries compared well with those in the private sector. As the survey covers only wages up to April last year, the government may conduct another one later this year.