Pay revision recommendations evoke mixed response
Kottayam: The recommendations submitted to the state government by the 10th Kerala Pay Revision Commission, headed by Justice Ramachandran Nair, evoked mixed response from employees associations of both ruling and opposition parties.
The report drew flak from opposition party’s employees association, while the association affiliated to the ruling party approved it raising the flag over some points.
The main concern raised against the report was that it overthrows the current wage system of a revision every five years. Left-lenient Kerala Secretariat Employees Association (KSEA) members lambasted the pay panel report and complained that despite the fact they have tried to indicate a revision, the report has got many disapproving details.
KSEA general secretary M.S. Bijukuttan told Onmanorama that 'the supposedly revised report topples the existing wage system of the government employees.'
“The present wage system is based on a change in every five years, which is the base for Kerala’s development and it resulted in better job facilities. That has been squashed by this report that suggests a 10-year change instead, which will create a disagreeable situation amongst the people in Kerala,” Bijukuttan said.
The pro-UDF Kerala Secretariat Association cautiously welcomed the pay panel's suggestions, which according to them would work well for the workers in the lower levels of pay structure.
Kerala Secretariat Association general secretary Sarath said, “The pay panel commission's proposal, in its initial analysis, appears to be useful for the public. An appreciable hike in wages can be observed in the first 13 stages, especially for the employees in the lower-levels of pay package.”
Five or Ten
Top officials of both the associations disagreed to the ten-year revision suggested by the 10th pay panel.
Clarifying why the commission recommended a 10-year revision in place of a five-year, member secretary of the commission K.V. Thomas said, “The Finance Commission is against it, State Expenditure Review Committee is against it, Government of India is against a revision every five years. So having considered all that and having given a good revision, the Commission thinks that a next revision is needed only after ten years.”
“We have given a considerably good revision. We expect that the government will accept the recommendations with least modifications.”
Leave Transfer Concession
Presently, the Kerala government employees are entitled to leave encashment every year entitling them for 13 months salary for the 12 months work. However, no such benefit is available for Central Government employees, states the Commission report.
The Commission has now proposed, “Leave Travel Concession (LTC) will be given at the central rate only in lieu of accrued leave encashment. Employees, who have completed 15 years of service are eligible for LTC. It is allowed once in an employee’s service,” and this has disheartened both the parties' trade unions.
“This is totally objectionable as surrendering the leave is entitled to us. It reminds us of 2002, when A.K. Antony was the chief minister and he too suggested a similar move,” said Bijukuttan.
According to Bijukuttan, the number of days which could be surrendered previously was 45 days, it was reduced to 15 during the course of time and the LDF government increased it to 30 days later.
Responding to this issue, K. V. Thomas said, “We have not said anything against leave surrender.”
“The state government employees have an extra benefit, which is encashment of leave unlike the central government of employees. This is not right, you cannot have both,” he added.
The employees associations can have a discussion with the state government and decide what they want accordingly, added Thomas.
Special Pay Discontinued
The commission report also recommends discontinuing the special pay in Higher Time Scale.
K. V. Thomas, the only one who has disagreed to this rule in the report, explained, “It is given under the rule 12 of Kerala Services. It states that if a person is discharging some higher responsibilities then they can take a Class 1 special pay which includes people such as deputy secretaries, joint secretaries, additional secretaries of the secretariat. They are given this pay as their duties involve—attending to cabinet papers, confidential files going to the cabinet. They are also members of several committees constituted at the government level, they are members of the board of directors of several government companies, they act as company directors, they have assembly duties to look after, etc. No other officer is fulfilling duties of this stature. It is very important and serious which is to be done with precision and quality. This is why special pay is given to them.”
Both the association secretaries were of the same opinion when it came to special pay for senior secretariat employees. Bijukuttan said that they are not happy with special pay being discontinued and Sarath said that they could not agree to this point at all.
Voicing his aversion to the point, Thomas said that it has been mentioned in the report even though he has not agreed to it as 'other members might have felt the need for it'.
“Those who spoke against the special pay must have done it because they must have heard from representatives that it is not needed simply because they don’t get it and somebody else is getting it,” Thomas added.
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