26 September 2023

HONG KONG: Officers need ‘morale-boosting’ pay rise

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Hong Kong’s biggest Public Service union has called for an across-the-board 5.1 per cent wage rise — higher than the level suggested by a pay trend survey — with its leader saying the increase is needed to “boost the morale” of Government workers.

President of the Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants’ Association, Li Kwai-yin said the demand was realistic and in line with accumulated inflation.

“We considered that the economy has not fully recovered from COVID-19, and the Government is seeing a fiscal deficit, so we made a restrained demand which could only catch up with inflation,” Ms Li (pictured) said.

“A 5.1 per cent pay rise allows Civil Servants to share the fruits of economic recovery and recognises their concerted efforts during the pandemic and amid the manpower shortage,” she said.

“This could help unite the team and boost morale.”

However, the union demand comes in the wake of calls by the private sector for the increase to be kept below four per cent amid fears of a flow-on effect.

It also comes after the release of the Pay Trend Survey, which suggested increases of 2.87 per cent for Public Service high earners, 4.65 per cent for middle-ranked employees and 4.5 per cent for junior staff.

The survey is based on information collected from 108 private companies. It is one of the six factors used to set the annual pay increase for the public sector.

Others include the state of Hong Kong’s economy, changes in the cost of living, the Government’s financial position, pay claims by unions and Public Service morale.

Ms Li said that even if the Government adopted the Association’s pay rise proposal, it would not be enough to improve staff retention on its own.

“We are suffering from a serious manpower crunch and many Civil Servants have had to bear an extra workload,” she said.

“When they feel burnout, they will quit – that’s the vicious cycle we are facing.”

She warned the Public Service was also facing a demographic time bomb.

“The authorities should also allow those who joined before June 2000 to extend their retirement age, otherwise the manpower crunch will be even worse when the retirement wave hits,” Ms Li said.

The retirement age of Public Servants used to be 60, but was increased to 65 after a revamp in 2015.

Hong Kong, 30 May 2023

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