Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region yesterday rejected calls to appoint an Independent Committee of Inquiry to look into the 2002 civil service pay reductions. The request had come from the staff side of the Senior Civil Service Council (SCSC).
Several labor unions said they were disappointed at the decision, and some even said they would step up the raising of funds to appeal.
"On the one hand, the decision is according to the current policy, and on the other hand it is entirely in accordance with the established mechanism, which both the staff side and the government have accepted," said Information Coordinator Stephen Lam at a stand-up media conference yesterday.
Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen wrote to the staff side of SCSC yesterday to convey the decision.
It is a matter of settled public policy that in determining the size of each year's civil service pay adjustment, the adjustment has followed the established staff consultation procedures, the chief secretary said in reply.
It is inherent in the existing mechanism that civil service pay may be increased or decreased. Thus, there is no need to set up the committee.
In response to the suggestion of the staff side of SCSC that the government should restore an alleged "shortfall" in pay cut which has accumulated since 1989, Tung said that it was a matter of settled public policy that each civil service pay adjustment exercise is taken as a separate and independent exercise based on circumstances prevailing at the time.
Under the mechanism, there is no question of restoring any "shortfalls" in pay cut carried over from previous years.
The government has invited the staff sides of the four central consultative councils and has given full and fair consideration to these claims and comments in deciding on this year's pay adjustment.
Tsang reiterated in the reply that legislation is the only way to implement the pay-adjustment decision fairly and with certainty.
A spokesman for the Civil Service Bureau urged the labor unions not to take radical action.
"The government hopes that the labor unions should take the whole situation into account. Whatever action they may take, they should not impair the service quality," he said.
Lau Kam-wah, chairman of the Junior Police Officers' Association of the Police, said he was not surprised by the decision but he felt regretful.
He said his association would call on other unions to take co-operative legal actions.
Another labor union leader Wong Wai-hung echoed this and said the union would increase the fund-raising campaign to accuse the government if the Legislative Council approved the legislation.
Also yesterday, Wong's Government Disciplined Services General Union and the Hong Kong Civil Servants General Union respectively presented an open letter to Tsang Yok Sing, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, seeking the political party's support to oppose the pay cut legislation.
The Executive Council approved on May 28 that civil service pay should be reduced by 4.42 percent for the directorate and the upper salary band, 1.64 percent for the middle salary band and 1.58 percent for the lower salary band with effect from October 1.
(China Daily Hong Kong Edition June 12, 2002)