The corporation’s offer, which followed a pay review for about 17,600 staff in Hong Kong, was the highest in three years. There were increases of 3.9 per cent last year and 3.8 per cent in 2017.
To mark the rail firm’s 40th anniversary this year, all staff will also be eligible for a 0.3-month bonus.
Salary increases range from 2.1 per cent to 6.3 per cent, with a little over one-third (35 per cent) of staff earning 5 per cent more and 15 per cent getting an extra 6.3 per cent.
Unions said they would accept the offer despite complaints their demands had not been met.
“The pay rise is a bit better than last year but the company has room to do even better because its profit was close to HK$10 billion last year,” said Lam Wai-keung, chairman of the pro-government Hong Kong Federation of Railway Trade Unions, which represents 4,000 MTR workers from four associations.
The federation had sought an overall pay rise of 7 to 8 per cent, demanded improvements in the pay review mechanism and for a gap in medical benefits between new staff and longer-serving employees to be closed.
Lam said the MTR Corp failed to respond to these demands.
“We want a direct dialogue with the CEO [Jacob Kam Chak-pui] over the needs of staff,” he said.
The MTR Corp said in a statement the pay review was based on salary trends of about 30 companies with a good reputation while taking reference to the market situation and the performance of the company and staff. The pay increases came into effect on July 1.
Profit from the corporation’s recurrent businesses jumped 5.1 per cent to HK$9 billion (US$1.14 billion) last year, mostly from operating urban rail services and managing commercial and residential properties.
It runs one of the busiest metro systems in the world, carrying 5.88 million passengers per weekday in Hong Kong.
Lam said he was very disappointed the management declined to restore workers’ overnight allowance to levels before the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003 – 50 per cent of an employee’s daily pay – from the current 38 per cent.
“Even after increases in the past two years, the allowance has still not returned to pre-Sars levels,” he said. “The increases cannot offset the work pressure we have.”
The corporation underwent a senior management reshuffle in recent months, with Rex Auyeung Pak-kuen succeeding Frederick Ma Si-hang
as non-executive chairman on July 1 and Kam replacing Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen as CEO on April 1.
The changes at the top followed a construction scandal on the city’s most expensive rail project, the HK$97.1 billion Sha Tin-Central link, which is still a subject of an ongoing investigation by police and a commission of inquiry.