The head of a group for small and medium-sized enterprises warned on Friday that proposed pay rises of up to 7 percent for civil servants risked putting pressure on the hard-hit private sector to match the increases or see staff walk away.
Speaking on RTHK's Hong Kong Today, Danny Lau, honorary chairman of the Small and Medium Enterprises Association, echoed a call from the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce to hold off on the pay rises proposed by the government's pay trend survey committee.
The committee earlier suggested a pay increase of 2.04 percent for junior civil servants, 4.55 percent for middle-level staff and 7.26 percent for senior government workers, after considering data from the 12 months to April.
Lau told RTHK's Janice Wong that private sector staff "will expect their employer to raise their salary by similar [levels] to that kind of rate".
"Then if employers cannot satisfy their wishes, they will leave the job and look for higher-paid work. Then huge employee turnover will be a huge burden for the economy to recover."
On Thursday, trade unions representing drivers of KMB and Long Win buses cited civil service pay as they sought a 7 percent increase in pay.
Speaking after meeting management, Lai Siu-chung from the Motor Transport Workers General Union said inflation was pushing up daily expenses. However he said management had told him that the loss of passengers to new MTR lines had hit revenue.