Civil servants bemoan pay freeze

Local | Jane Cheung 4 Jun 2020

A group representing disciplined services staff said yesterday that members are extremely disappointed by the decision to freeze civil servants' pay this year.

Disciplined Services Consultative Council chairwoman Bonnie Lo Hoi-sze criticized the government for not discussing the move with civil servants before it was announced.

"The decision comes as a beating for civil servants' morale. We hope to meet the chief executive to see if there are other ways out," she said.

This followed Tuesday's announcement that there would be no pay rise for all 180,000 civil servants this year amid the pandemic and social unrest. This was despite recommendations by the Pay Trend Survey Committee for salary rises of between 1.15 and 1.98 percent.

Lo said if the government followed the recommendations and gave staff a raise, it would have a "butterfly effect" that might help revive the economy.

Junior Police Officers' Association chief Lam Chi-wai said civil servants "went through hard times" during the protests and did not expect to be rewarded with a pay freeze.

The Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants' Association's president Li Kwai-yin also expressed disappointment, adding that it is considering withdrawing from the committee.

Civil service secretary Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said he understood civil servants' feelings about the freeze but called for their support.

"We have thoroughly considered the needs of civil servants and I'd like to stress that we recognize our colleagues' responsible efforts in serving citizens amid social events and the pandemic," he said.

Asked about unions' intention to quit the committee, Nip replied: "If unions have opinions on the pay trend system, they can discuss with the government. I think it's a more active way to solve the problem."

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