Pay-trend indicators based on salaries at 97 companies Hong Kong's 160,000 civil servants are in line for pay rises ranging from 3.9 per cent to 6.3 per cent, according to a government pay-trend survey released yesterday. The survey showed the top salary band, with a monthly income of HK$45,971 to HK$91,765, had increased by 6.9 per cent over the past year. But pay rises for workers earning less than HK$14,990, averaged just 4.47 per cent. Those in the middle, from HK$14,990 to HK$45,970, were awarded 5.87 per cent. The preliminary pay-trend indicators are based on wages in 97 companies over a 12-month period. In January, the Institute of Human Resources Management released a similar pay-trend survey showing an average increase of 4 per cent. After discounting the effect of civil service annual pay increments for seniority, the reference figures for civil service pay increases this year will be 3.9 per cent for the lower band, 5.29 for the middle and 6.3 for the upper band. It is still unsure if the government will follow the decade-long practice of raising the percentage increase of the lower band to that of the middle band. Last year, civil service salaries rose by between 4.62 and 4.96 per cent in the first pay rise since 2001. Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun said he was surprised that low-income earners only had a small pay rise. 'I'm a little surprised to be honest,' said Mr Tien, noting the discrepancy between the percentage increase for the low-wage earners and the high earners. 'If you increase several hundred dollars, HK$400 for example, that might be 5 per cent [for the low earners]. So here, they're not even getting a HK$400 increase. But of course, we believe the government's pay-trend survey is based on true, detailed analysis. 'We'll ask some questions about what I've just mentioned, but as long as they have followed the conventional formula, then I believe we will support it.' Junior staff representatives vowed opposition if their salaries were not adjusted in line with those for the middle band. A staff representative on the government's consultative body for junior staff, Leung Tat-wah, said the secretary for the civil service had floated the idea of just dovetailing the indicators for each pay band. 'The government was concerned that drastic adjustments would be needed every few years if the annual salary adjustment for junior staff did not dovetail with the pay trend in the private sector,' he said. 'But we think the pay gap between the rich and the poor in society would be aggravated if the government deviated from the standing practice to bring up our adjustment figures.' The Civil Service Bureau would not say if the middle and lower bands would be given the same percentage increase. A bureau spokesman stressed the adjustment percentages would be decided by the Chief Executive in Council, after considering factors like the pay indicators, staff pay claims, the cost of living, the state of the economy, the government's fiscal position and staff morale. The spokesman rejected claims that the adjustment might fuel inflation, saying it only reflected the pay trend from April 2 last year to April 1.