Hong Kong Budget 2018-2019

Unions of Hong Kong’s frontline civil servants unsatisfied with 4.51 per cent pay rise, want 5 per cent instead

The government considered factors such as economic outlook, other industries and the city’s coffers, but workers’ groups say public sector should not be pegged to private

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2018, 8:51pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2018, 9:16pm

The workers’ unions of frontline Hong Kong civil servants have expressed disappointment with an expected pay rise of 4.51 per cent this year, despite it being more than the 2.84 per cent initially suggested by government advisers.

On Tuesday, Li Kwai-yin, president of the 120,000-strong Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants’ Association, said it was unsatisfied with the increase stipulated by the Executive Council. The association demanded a 5 per cent raise instead.

Li’s comments came after the Civil Service Bureau announced a pay rise of 4.06 per cent for highest earners and 4.51 per cent for middle-ranking and frontline officers.

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The offers, subject to final approval by the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee, would be effective retrospectively from April 1 this year.

The pay rise is based on results of a survey that tracked salary trends in the private sector over the past year. The government study had recommended increases of 2.84 per cent for frontline staff, 4.51 per cent for middle-ranking staff and 4.06 per cent for directorate grade and senior officers.

Civil servants need to enforce the law. But those in private firms do not. Our work natures cannot be compared
Leung Chau-ting, Federation of Civil Service Unions

A bureau spokesman said the latest decision was made after considering factors such as the state of Hong Kong’s economy, cost of living, the government’s financial position, staff demands and morale, as well as industry trends.

The spokesman added that the “bring-up” arrangement was adopted this year to match the salary levels of frontline staff with that of middle-ranking colleagues.

Li however urged for a rethink, saying: “The government has a huge surplus and our economic outlook is good. We think civil servants deserve a fairer share of the economic success.

“We have been asking for a 5 per cent raise. And that is only another 0.49 percentage point.”

Li would not comment on what workers would do if their demands were not met.

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Leung Chau-ting of the Federation of Civil Service Unions, which has about 10,000 members, also questioned the system of taking reference from the private market when determining civil servants’ pay. “Civil servants need to enforce the law. But those in private firms do not. Our work natures cannot be compared.”

Hong Kong has more than 171,000 civil servants. In the 2017-18 financial year, staff-related expenditure amounted to HK$116.4 billion, up from HK$110.5 billion the previous year.