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Wednesday, Nov 25, 2020

Hong Kong police unions fight back at lawmakers’ attempt to deny officers a pay rise

Disciplined Services Consultative Council and Junior Police Officers’ Association release statement day before pay review meetingใ Pan-democrats earlier tried to remove police from discussion on civil service pay and claimed they had public backing

Two major unions representing Hong Kong police officers have expressed outrage over calls to exclude the force from the annual pay rise review for civil servants.

The Disciplined Services Consultative Council (DSCC), and the Junior Police Officers’ Association (JPOA) have increased pressure on pan-democrats, a day before the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee resumes its scrutiny over the funding application for the pay rise concerning more than 176,000 civil servants on Friday.

The pro-democracy bloc, backed by almost 400 newly elected district councillors from the same camp, earlier issued a joint letter asking the government to remove police from the funding request.

The two unions, who had earlier sent letters to the committee, said on Thursday the proposed arrangement would undermine the force’s efforts to protect life and property in a city rocked by six months of anti-government protests.

“As procedural justice is always on the lips of pan-democrats, they should stick to the established mechanism and not let their political stance override the benefits for civil servants,” said Lam Chi-wai, chairman of the JPOA.

The existing annual civil service pay adjustment mechanism hinges on six factors, including the net pay trend, the economy, and public servants’ morale. DSCC’s acting chairwoman, Bonnie Lo Hoi-sze, said the performance of individual disciplined services should not be considered.

But she refused to comment on the HK$950 million (US$122 million) overtime allowance granted to 11,000 police officers since the start of the civil unrest in June.

In a written reply to the legislature, the Civil Service Bureau revealed the payroll expenses for the force had reached HK$7.95 billion (US$1 billion) in November.

If the proposed pay rise was approved, an estimated HK$410 million in back-payment in salary – and another HK$50 million in back-payment of overtime allowance – would be required, it added.

Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho rejected Lam’s argument, and said the attempt to block a pay rise for law enforcement was in line with public opinion, and abided by procedural rules in Legco.

Also on Thursday, Citizens’ Press Conference, a group which claims to represent protesters, released an online survey of what it said was more than 63,000 respondents, which found more than 99 per cent opposed a pay rise for police, while 92 per cent agreed to have the force excluded from the review.

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