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Hong Kong police

Police representatives end five-year boycott of body advising Hong Kong government on its workers’ pay

  • Officers said their pay should be adjusted separately from other civil servants
  • But city leader in October ordered a review of pay grades for all disciplined services
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 December, 2018, 8:15pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 December, 2018, 11:00pm

The council that represents all Hong Kong police officers has ended a five-year boycott of the body which advises the government on civil service pay.

The news came as chairman of the Standing Commission on Civil Service Salaries and Conditions of Service, Wilfred Wong Ying-wai, wrapped up his six-year tenure on Thursday. It was a sign of progress in a battle over whether officers’ pay should be adjusted in the same way as other government workers’.

The commission advises Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on the pay and conditions of Hong Kong’s 172,600 civil servants. Another body, the Pay Trend Survey Committee (PTSC), advises the commission on annual pay trends.

The credibility of the latter body, which comprises government and staff representatives, has been questioned since 2013, when two groups representing the disciplined services boycotted its meetings, dissatisfied with how it worked out its recommended pay adjustments.

The two groups were the Police Force Council (PFC) – which represents all 33,000 city police officers – and the Disciplined Services Consultative Council (DSCC), which represents more than 32,000 staff from correctional services, customs, fire services, immigration, and the Government Flying Service.

Wong revealed on Thursday that representatives from the PFC attended the committee’s December meeting, effectively ending the boycott.

“I think this is a gesture to show that they are engaging with us again,” Wong said.

It came two months after Lam instructed the Civil Service Bureau to review grade structures for all disciplined services in October.

Lam said then that the bureau would have to ensure that pay for uniformed officers was “effective in attracting and retaining” staff.

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Police unions, which are represented on the PFC, had called for their pay to be regularly adjusted separately from other civil servants’.

Civil servants’ pay is reviewed and adjusted according to factors including private sector pay rates. Police union leaders said the arrangement was unfair, as their daily duties were riskier than other civil servants’, and it was hard to find a reliable reference in the private sector.

Junior Police Officers’ Association chairman Lam Chi-wai said the chief executive’s move in October was key to the PFC’s return.

“At the time of our departure, the government ruled out reviewing the pay structure of the police,” he noted.

He said the association had collected views from officers and would submit them to the force’s administrators.

DSCC chairman Yang Kin-sang said the group had been “actively considering” returning to PTSC meetings too, but wanted to see some concrete progress before doing so.

“The current pay adjustment mechanism does not reflect the uniqueness of disciplined services,” said the senior divisional officer of the Fire Services Department’s diving unit.

On Thursday, Wong also said civil servants, especially those in the disciplined services, had faced huge pressure in recent years due to political incidents, though he did not specify which incidents.

He will be succeeded by Jardine Matheson Holdings deputy managing director Pang Yiu-kai at the start of next year.