26 September 2023

HONG KONG: Workers choose freeze over pay cut

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The salaries of Hong Kong’s 180,000 Public Servants will be frozen for the second year in a row.

Unions rushed to accept the freeze as the least-worst option after the Government hinted that pay cuts were under consideration.

The pay freeze will be effective retrospectively from 1 April.

A Government spokesperson said the contributions of Public Servants at all ranks in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic were worthy of recognition “but there are economic factors, both unfavourable and encouraging, that need to be considered”.

“While the unemployment rate still stands at a high level, the state of the economy has shown a clear trend of recovery,” the spokesperson said.

Salaries of Public Servants were frozen last year as the economy and the Government’s fiscal position were hit hard by the pandemic.

It also marked the first time in 11 years that Government workers did not get a pay rise.

Chair of the Hong Kong Senior Government Officers Association, Lee Fong-chung said the pay freeze was acceptable.

“If there’s a pay cut, it would affect Civil Service morale as economic circumstances have improved, like the unemployment rate,” Mr Lee said.

Head of the Federation of Civil Service Unions, Leung Chau-ting said it was reasonable to have a pay freeze this year.

Mr Leung said he believed Public Servants should ride out the difficult times along with the public.

However, the Government Employees Association said in a statement that it was disappointed and dissatisfied about the pay freeze.

“The Government has not considered the impact of Civil Servants having a pay freeze two years in a row,” the Association said.

Hong Kong, 10 June 2021

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