Asian employers turn to wage freeze

SINGAPORE: Employers in Asia are increasingly turning to wage freezes in 2003 with salary hike prospects clouded by a shaky global economic rebound and the threat of a US war with Iraq, according to a survey report published yesterday.  

Indonesia, India and China were the notable exceptions, with employers in those countries forecast to jack up managers’ salaries by an average 12%, 10% and 8% respectively, said HR Business Solutions (HRBS). 

“Pay-increase trends for 2003 remain flat and, to a large extent, mirror those of 2002 for the majority of Asia-Pacific countries,” Singapore's Business Times quoted HRBS managing principal Elaine Ng as saying. 

The survey by the Hong Kong-based human resource and compensation consultancy covered 88 firms, mostly multinational corporations. 

Some 16% of those queried in Singapore indicated they would freeze salaries in 2003, but Hong Kong fared the worst. 

“The 2003 pay increase forecast dips by more than one-third from an average of 2.73% in 2002 to 2% in 2003,” Ng said. 

“Throughout Asia in 2003, in all of the 16 countries surveyed, there are employers implementing wage freeze,” Ng said. 

Japanese employers are budgeting for pay hikes of only 2% while pay raises for Taiwan’s manager are forecast at 4%.  

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