The government on Tuesday proposed an across-the-board pay rise of 2.5 percent for all civil servants.
The government-appointed Pay Trend Survey Committee had earlier suggested salary increases of 2.04 percent for junior civil servants, 4.55 percent for middle-ranking workers and 7.26 percent for senior staff.
Making the announcement, the Secretary for the Civil Service, Ingrid Yeung, said the decision to offer 2.5 percent was made after taking into account factors including the economy, cost of living, the government’s fiscal position, staff morale, pay trends in the private market and views from workers.
“Hong Kong’s economy has been in a complex situation in the past year. Despite the strong rebound in 2021, the economy was severely hurt in the first quarter of 2022 amidst the fifth wave of the epidemic,” said Yeung.
“Although the business atmosphere and the employment situation has changed for the better in recent months, there remains uncertainties in the overall economic situation.”
When asked at a press conference why the proposal is lower than what was recommended for middle-ranking and senior staff, Yeung said the pay trend survey is not the sole consideration for pay adjustments.
She dismissed suggestions that the proposed 2.5 percent increase will hit staff morale, given Hong Kong’s economy is on the path to recovery. “I’m sure our civil service colleagues, as both civil servants and as Hong Kong citizens, will strive their best to help with the recovery, to do their best to help Hong Kong to get back to normalcy.”
Yeung said the Chief Executive-in-Council will listen to views from staff and make a decision. Once approved by the Legislative Council, the salary adjustment will be backdated to April 1, 2022.
In response, a civil union said it finds the proposed pay rise unreasonable, as authorities had been unable to explain how it came up with the 2.5 percent figure.
Fung Chuen-chung, who chairs the Hong Kong Civil Servants General Union, also said he doesn't know why the government keeps praising the performance of its staff, and yet proposes a pay increase that "seriously deviated" from the findings of the pay trend survey.
The Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions said it was regrettable that the government’s suggested hike wasn’t based on the existing mechanism.
It said civil servants have had their wages frozen for two years and the proposed hike lags far behind inflation.
The federation’s lawmaker, Lam Chun-sing, said government workers would essentially suffer from a “de facto pay cut” as their standard of living and purchasing power would be lowered.
Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Kwok Wai-keung, meanwhile, said while he understands the 2.5 percent proposed pay rise may come as a disappointment for some civil servants, it’s still better than having a pay freeze for the third year in a row.
He said he believes the government has taken into account the views of different sectors of the community, adding that he hopes the private sector will follow suit and offer their workers a pay rise.