Unionist says gap with private sector is not alarming Civil servants are paid more than private sector counterparts, a trade union source said, citing a government consultant's preliminary survey figures. But the gap was not alarming and some civil servants were underpaid, the source said. Secretary for the Civil Service Denise Yue Chung-yee yesterday unveiled pay figures to staff representatives and members of a steering committee on a wage adjustment in closed-door briefings. Sources said the pay level survey had shown that in April, most of the civil service salaries were higher than in the private sector, although the gaps were not 'alarming'. 'The figures are generally higher. But the gap is not huge. The results are not very alarming,' the union source said. The figures are subject to further adjustment by the government. Civil servants will meet officials again next month. The revelation came as the government was nearing a consensus with staff for a new survey to track wage changes after April last year. The so-called pay trend survey has been used for annual civil service pay adjustments. But it was suspended after being criticised for failing to reflect economic reality. Under the plan, the original pay trend survey of about 100 companies will expand to cover small and medium-sized enterprises, a move officials hope will better reflect wage changes in the private sector. Together with the pay comparison data obtained by the consultant, the findings on wage trends will determine if the 160,000 civil servants will get pay rises later this year, the first time in six years. Speaking after a briefing on the pay figures, legislator Howard Young, of the business-affiliated Liberal Party, said the wage gap was less severe than in 2003. 'My initial impression is that the huge pay gap that existed a few years ago is no longer there,' he said. Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun said he did not feel that civil servants deserved a pay rise because their salaries were generally higher than people in the private sector. Executive councillor and steering committee member Anthony Cheung Bing-leung believed that a decision on pay adjustments would only be made after the wage trend survey had been completed. He believed the pay comparison figures would be adjusted by the government after taking into account the unique characteristics of civil service jobs. He said the business sector should not oppose a pay rise as long as the pay survey findings were credible. A Civil Service Bureau spokesman had no comment at this stage.