SCMP Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Mandarins to get lion's share of pay rise


The Government announced on Tuesday that it was going ahead with its original civil service pay plans - a rise of 4.99 per cent for senior grades and 2.38 per cent for lower and middle-ranked officials.
The announcement of the pay rise, which followed meetings with union representatives, will put an estimated $3,975 million on tax payers' bill in 2001-02. The rise is subject to approval from Legco's Finance Committee, which will be sought on 6 July 2001. Once approved, it will be back-dated to take effect from April 1, 2001.
A spokesman of the Civil Service Bureau described the pay adjustment as both ''fair and reasonable''.
''We have, in line with prevailing practice, already raised the adjustment rate of the lower pay band from the net pay trend indicator of 1.97 per cent to 2.38 per cent to match the adjustment rate of the middle pay band. We do not see any overriding reason for a further upward adjustment," he added.
Legislator Lee Cheuk-yan of the Confederation of Trade Unions said he was disappointed with the payrise adjustment.
''A different pay adjustment scale is improper and unfair. It will only widen the gap between the top and lower salary bands. Those in the middle and lower stratas will be demoralised,'' he was quoted as saying on local TV. He called for a uniform pay rise for all civil servants.
Lung Wing-fat, staff side chairman of the Model Scale 1 Staff Consultative Council said: ''We are very disappointed that the Government ignored our views. This is very unfair.
''The extra $200 per month for the lower band workers will not be enough to compensate for the pending inflation of public services,'' he said.
He said other unions would discuss what to do, but ruled out taking radical action for the time being.
Democrat Cheung Man-kwong said Government's decision was expected. ''It is a usual custom to align the salary of the lower band with the middle ones. If the staff is not satisfied with the practice, they should advocate a change in the salary assesment system next year,'' he said.