HK lawmakers approve pay rise for civil servants despite opposition’s calls to block deal for police over their handling of anti-government protests

29-Feb-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:52 AM Print This Post

Lawmakers approved an annual pay rise for Hong Kong’s 176,000 civil servants on Friday, even as the pro-democracy camp sought to argue that the police force did not deserve the deal worth about HK$12 billion in total because of its handling of the anti-government protests.

Overtime pay for officers costing nearly HK$1 billion was also approved by the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee, a sum which has soared over the past six months of unrest sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill.

The pay increase for government and police staff of up to 5.26 per cent will be backdated to April 1 last year.

Police unions fight back at bid to deny officers a pay rise

The police package has been subject to fierce debate in the committee’s six sessions since December. Overtime pay and allowances increased tenfold to HK$2.5 billion in 2019/20, compared with the original estimates, according to the latest government budget released on Wednesday.

The opposition pro-democracy camp has been highly critical of police’s handling of protests since June last year, and tried to block their pay rise.

Government and civil servants’ unions opposed that move, saying the pay increase had always been approved as a package.

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said: “None of us are opposed to civil servants’ pay rises, but how dare police still ask for a pay rise after the repeated attacks on our people? We cannot allow a single dime to go to the police.”

Referring to some public sector workers’ support of the anti-government protests, Priscilla Leung Mei-fun of the pro-establishment Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong said: “I’m also very frustrated about individual civil servants’ performance.

“But we won’t oppose to the pay rise, otherwise that will be unfair to civil servants who are holding fast to their role.”

Staff working in the lower and middle levels of the civil service and the force will get a pay rise of 5.26 per cent, while those in the upper ranks will get a 4.75 per cent rise.

The Finance Committee on Friday voted down an adjournment motion on the pay rises from the Democratic Party’s Ted Hui Chi-fung.

Eight amendment motions from the pro-democracy camp, to either freeze the pay rise for police or those in other departments, were also rejected.

After the vote, the pro-democracy camp vowed to block the new police payroll announced in the government budget on Wednesday, which showed increasing the force’s headcount by 2,543 to about 38,000 would cost up to HK$22 billion.

People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen said he would not rule out filibustering the budget debate. Scrutiny of the bill will begin in April.

“No police have been held accountable over the past few months,” said camp convenor Tanya Chan said.

But Secretary for the Civil Service Joshua Law Chi-kong said the new additions to the force were based on operational need. “I believe the police have a strong case to argue and support their request,” Law said.


Category: Hong Kong

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