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ISLAMABAD: The protesting federal government employees Thursday brought the Centre to its knees, forcing it to give a 25 percent salary increase from Grade 1 to 19 on ad hoc basis.

Despite warning and protests, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was reluctant to increase salaries of government employees for the last two and a half years under one pretext or another, but it had to succumb to the pressure their when they refused to call off the sit-in, despite heavy teargas shelling and baton charge a day ago.

Speaking at a presser, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak along with Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, and State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, announced that negotiations with protesting government employees had been successful last night and their salaries would be increased by 25pc on ad-hoc basis.

The interior minister, who had earlier threatened the protesting government employees and also used excessive and lethal force against them on Wednesday, said the government committee had decided in the meeting to release all the arrested individuals so far.

Elaborating upon the implementation of the ad-hoc relief, Khattak said that it would be added to the pay scales in the budget that would be announced in June.

Announcing other decisions of the committee, he said it had decided upon the process of upgradation for all government employees which would be carried out after the budget set to be announcement in June.

He said that a decision on promoting employees based on time-scale approval had also been taken; adding a policy would be made for it and a procedure would be formulated.

“The one who works harder should get more opportunities than the one who is lazy and doesn't work hard,” he said, adding, “Implementation of this decision would also take place after the new budget is announced”.

The minister also addressed the demands of provincial departments, and said that the prime minister had instructed that the provincial governments be given directions, so the problems of the employees of the provincial governments could also be solved.

“We regret what happened yesterday and it should not have happened. Sometimes delays happen and it does not mean we are not working for you,” he added.

Ali Muhammad Khan also said he appreciated the protest movement and the prime minister also believed in the people's right to protest.

Despite the fact that it was the Deputy Commissioner Islamabad, Hamza Shafqat, who mishandled the protest, Khan was all praise for the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration, but he did say use of force against peaceful protesters must not repeat.

Interior Minister Rashid said negotiations were successful with the cooperation of employees from grades 1 to 19.

“I am thankful to the workers and Pervez Khattak for amicably resolving the issue,” he added.

The federal employees had been complaining since a year about the difference in their basic pays, according to the defence minister.

He said the final calculations of the government committee to resolve the ongoing dispute showed on average there was a difference of 60pc in pay of the federal employees.

Rashid said the government would remain in contact with the employees and increases would be made in the salaries of government employees from grades 20 to 22, in the next budget.

He clarified, however, that the salary increase was for the federal employees and the employees of the federal secretariat.

The minister said that all protesters who had been arrested would be released and first information reports (FIRs) registered against them would be withdrawn.

In response to a question about policemen themselves being affected during the previous day's teargas shelling, he said the cabinet would approve the release of funds, so that money could be provided to police for equipment that is in short supply.

At least 350 people gathered at the Pakistan Secretariat to protest, while another 700 marched towards the National Press Club in capital's Blue Area, but they decided to call off the protest after the ministers' presser.

A notification issued by the government after the sit-in was called off stated that “in pursuance of the directions issued by the prime minister, a committee was notified to deal with All Government Employees Grand Alliance, Pakistan along with leaders of government organizations.”

It said that after due deliberations and round of various negotiations, following commitments are being made subject to conformance of law and policy.

“Salaries of all federal government servants will be increased with effect from March 01, 2021. The increase will be 25pc and will be applicable to only those employees/organizations from BS 1-19 who are otherwise not taking any additional allowances,” it added.

“The Finance Ministry will work on the time scale promotion and upgradation of low-scale government employees. Ad-hoc relief will be made part of the basic salary with effect from July 2021. It is directed that the above package will be seriously considered by all provinces for implementation,” said the notification.

Meanwhile,: In accordance with the agreement reached between the Special Committee constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan comprising Federal Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak, Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan and representatives of Federal Government Employees, the Finance Division has agreed to the following, in principle:

a) Disparity Reduction Allowance @ 25% of the basic pay of BPS-2017 shall be allowed to those civil employees in BPS (1-19) of the Federal Government (including employees of Federal Secretariat and attached departments) who have never been allowed additional salary equal to or more than 100% of the basic pay (whether frozen or not) or performance allowance w.e.f. 01 March, 2021.

b) The posts BPS (1-16) or equivalent will be upgraded on the pattern of Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa w.e.f. 01 March, 2021.

c) The grant of time-scale will also be considered for adoption on the same pattern in the next budget.

d) Adhoc Relief will also be considered to be made part of the basic salary w.e.f. July, 2021.

e) The provinces will be recommended for adoption of above from their own resources.

A summary to the effect is being placed before the Cabinet for requisite approval.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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