22 April 2019
Queen Elizabeth Hospital will be the venue of a planned protest by Hong Kong's public hospital doctors over pay issues. Photo: HKEJ
Queen Elizabeth Hospital will be the venue of a planned protest by Hong Kong's public hospital doctors over pay issues. Photo: HKEJ

Public hospital doctors plan protest Wednesday over pay dispute

Public hospital doctors plan to stage a mass sit-in on Wednesday to highlight their demand for extra pay hike, according to the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association (HKPDA).

The doctors are seeking an adjustment in salary levels in line with the raise granted to senior civil servants.

The venue of the sit-in will be the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which was also where public hospital doctors had last protested in 2007 over salary demands, Ming Pao Daily reported.

In February, the government endorsed an extra 3 percent pay rise, backdated to last October, for senior civil servants. The move was based on a Civil Service Pay Level Survey Report released in 2013.

But the Hospital Authority (HA) suggested last week that the survey did not apply to public hospital doctors.

Claiming that some-2000 doctors were left out in the government’s decision to give a pay hike for senior servants, HKPDA chairman Pierre Chan Pui-yin said the protest is aimed at making the HA, the government and the public aware of doctors’ discontent over their pay.

Chan contends that the pay adjustment mechanism for senior doctors had always been linked with that of the civil service.

Since Wednesday is a public holiday, Chan believes the sit-in will not affect services provided by public hospitals.

At least 300 doctors are expected to take part in the protest.

Negotiations in the past few months about giving the doctors a pay raise in line with senior servants sparked hopes of a positive outcome, but now the tough stance shown by HA has angered the doctors, Chan said.

One should understand why the doctors are in such a fury, Chan said, pointing out that in 2009 the doctors were asked by HA to accept pay cuts in line with civil servants. Back then, authorities argued that salaries paid to both parties should be “closely linked”.

Based on the rationale, Chan said it is reasonable now that doctors should enjoy a raise like civil servants.

Under Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said Sunday that no such a link has been existing in the public system.

Legislator Kwok Ka-Ki said he supports the association’s demand, while colleague Ip Kwok-him said he is worried that other organizations might follow suit if HKPDA gets what it wants.

If HA decides to give public doctors an extra pay rise, it may involve an additional expenditure of HK$200 million (US$25.8 million) every year, a source told Ming Pao.

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