HK civil servants’ union willing to accept pay freeze amid gloomy economic picture

29-May-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A leading civil servants’ union in Hong Kong has offered to accept a pay freeze for the next few years as the official committee that studies the pay trend met on Wednesday to confirm a recommendation of up to a nearly 2 per cent pay rise for the 180,000 public sector employees.

The Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants’ Association, which represents some one-third of government workers, also called for suspending the annual pay trend survey, pending a review.

Association president Li Kwa-yin, who sat on the pay trend committee as a staff-side representative, said: “I have raised my points at the meeting. The pay survey cannot give a true reflection of the economic situation, especially when the economy is entering a recession. The findings were derived from data months ago.”

The survey suggested increases of between 1.15 per cent and 1.98 per cent, with the lowest earners receiving a 1.15 per cent rise, those in the middle ranks 1.98 per cent, and the highest earners 1.68 per cent.

“The public will not be happy if civil servants get a pay rise under an economic situation when many other workers are facing a pay cut or lay-offs,” Li said. “If the government cuts our pay, it will threaten the stability of the civil service. So, the best way is not to follow the pay survey and to freeze our pay.”

She said she would raise it with Civil Service Bureau officials during a meeting on Thursday.

Hong Kong civil servants still in line for pay rise of up to 2 per cent

The government’s Pay Trend Survey Committee chair, Lee Luen-fai, said the survey had been conducted in a professional and objective manner.

“It is the usual practice to have a review of the methodology of the study after the current pay trend survey exercise is completed,” Lee said. He noted the pay trend survey mechanism had first been adopted in the 1970s.

“This year’s findings are based on a pay survey covering 107 private companies,” Lee said. “I understand that in accordance with the established practice, the government will also consider other factors, like the economic situation of Hong Kong, the government’s financial status and the staff’s claims, before making a final decision on the 2020-21 civil service pay adjustment.”

If the government cuts our pay, it will threaten the stability of the civil service. So, the best way is not to follow the pay survey and to freeze our pay

Association president Li Kwa-yin

Hong Kong’s economy is reeling from the double blow of the Covid-19 pandemic and months of social unrest that had pushed it into a recession. The jobless rate from February to April was 5.2 per cent, one percentage point up from the previous three months, while the economy shrank 8.9 per cent in the first quarter.

Members of the committee include representatives from business, the professional sectors, government and the civil service.

The survey results will be submitted to the government, and the Executive Council will decide on any rise. Its proposal will be sent to the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee for final approval.


Category: Hong Kong

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