Issue No.526
25 Jun., 2007

Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union

Fight for four important educational issues!

PTU News Reporter 

PTU is now fighting for the rights of secondary and primary school teachers regarding four important issues. First, we urge the government to readjust the pay adjustment of those teachers recruited from 2000 to 2006 according to their seniority. Second, curriculum development officers should be changed to regular posts with no pay cut. Third, 150 government schoolteachers appointed on agreement terms have changed to permanent terms. Fourth, job-transfer of surplus primary school teachers should be arranged properly. We are now negotiating under a rational ground with EMB for a consensus on those issues. However, if we find any policy unreasonable and communication between us can no longer continue, we are always ready to invite all those colleagues concerned to come together and fight for the justice and the rights of all teachers.

First, according to the new pay adjustment, the government fails to adjust the pay rise of the teachers recruited from 2000 to 2006 according to their seniority. PTU has consulted our members five times about this and Cheung Man Kwong, President of PTU, has expressed several times in different Legco commissions that although he agreed to the salary level raise for teachers, the current pay scale adjustment is unfair and unreasonable for senior teachers. Owing to the insistence of the government on the pay scale adjustments, our union took to the streets on 16th of June with 1500 teachers to fight for a pay rise according to experience and qualifications.

Moreover, the restriction on the number of graduate master (GM) teachers has forced those degree-holder teachers, or even master-degree-holder teachers to be certificate master (CM) teachers, with a lower level of salary. We deem this unreasonable exploitation.

Finally, Tong Chung-fun, our executive committee member, on behalf of teachers concerned, made two requests to the government. First, the current pay scale adjustment is unfair and unreasonable for senior teachers and therefore we urge the government to recognize the seniority of those earlier-recruited teachers and pay them according to their seniority. Second, we urge the government to relax the restrictions on the number of GM teachers, so that degree-holder-CM -teachers can be paid at the same level of salary as GM teachers.

We believe that despite the pay rise after pay scale adjustments, CM teachers still suffer from an unreasonable remuneration unless the restriction on the number of GM teachers per school is relaxed. Therefore, we cordially invite those members to show our solidarity, come and join the forum held at 15:00 on 30th of June and the march held at 15:00 of the 1st of July at Victoria Park, to urge the government to propose a reasonable pay scale adjustment for teachers, and to relax the restrictions on the number of GM teachers as soon as possible.

Second, those primary school curriculum development officers, who are hired on agreement terms, can now be changed to the permanent terms. However, the starting point for this rank would be reduced to point 30, though they have reached point 33 of the pay scale in the same post. We believe that this unfair adjustment is doing harm to the morale and stability of the educational professionals and therefore we are looking forward to resolving this issue with EMB.

Cheung reiterated that though new appointees to a specific rank receive pay at the starting salary point laid down for that rank, there is also an exception written in the document (LC Paper No. CB(1)623/06-07(03)): "Where the appointment authority is faced with serious recruitment difficulties or where the experience of a new recruit, irrespective of whether or not he / she was a former NCSC staff, is considered particularly valuable for meeting operational needs, the appointment authority may grant incremental credits for experience to the new recruit." In Hong Kong, more than 500 primary schools have hired a curriculum development officer, and every school could only hire one of them. They are so unique to every school, and with their working experiences gained in schools, they understand well the operation of the curriculum development and are able to develop curricula catering for the special needs of the students at school. Due to their work effectiveness, the government now changes the posts of these officers to be on permanent terms. Therefore, it is not reasonable to pay them according to the starting point of the rank. They should receive pay with their experiences fully recognized.

EMB replied that they would consider making a special arrangement for those officers, and that is, under the existing policies, rules and principles, the current curriculum development officer can change to the new rank of curriculum development officers on permanent terms, and be paid according to their experience. Finally we invited all officers to attend our forum where we reported to them the result our discussion with EMB, and those officers agreed that we should accept the proposal raised by EMB.

Third, concerning the terms of appointment of government school teachers, Cheung has also urged the government to change those government school teachers appointed on three-and-three-year agreement terms to the appointment on permanent terms, and he wrote to EMB and Civil Service Bureau again on 23rd of May to remind the government of the promise. The government has recently replied to Cheung that after the new entry system adopted in 2001, they have hired till now around 390 teachers, and owing to the decreasing number of students, there will be surplus teachers in the government schools in the long run. However, after considering the long-term demand for the educational service and the civil service establishment, the government has decided to change the 100 assistant primary school masters (GM or CM) and 50 assistant government secondary school education officers appointed on agreement terms to the permanent terms, starting from September of 2007.

For the issue of surplus teachers, as usual, we have been striving to resolve the problems before the next school year. And in February and May of this year, we held formal meetings with EMB, to review the progress of the early retirement scheme for school teachers and to propose some improvement measures about the scheme to the Bureau. In this school year, the EMB has provided the teaching staff with 300 places of the early retirement scheme. Moreover, starting from 8th of May, PTU also accepted the job transfer application of those surplus teachers, and 200 of them had submitted their application before the deadline of 8th of July. Half of them have succeeded in the transfer, and we believe that the number of the successful cases will still be increasing.

All in all, PTU has been adopting the resolutions of our annual general meeting of members, and keeps on fighting for the justice and rights of all our members on rational grounds, but we do not rule out the possibility of peaceful protests, and that is the basic human rights protected by our legal system. Please come forward and support our actions. We are most grateful for the opinions and criticisms of all front-line teachers, thanks to which we can always be on the alert and call upon more teachers for solidarity, so that we can keep on struggling for our quality education.