PESHAWAR: About 8,000 lower grade employees of the provincial government find themselves at the receiving end as the successive provincial governments ignored their demand for elevation of their posts, according to complainants.

Apart from fighting a legal battle with the provincial bureaucracy in the Peshawar High Court for the upgradation of their posts, the recent move of employees working as senior clerks, junior clerks, and assistants to get their demand accepted by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and senior finance minister Sirajul Haq has again encountered resistance from the top bureaucracy.

“In reply to the chief minister’s directive to formally put up the case to him, the provincial establishment department has opposed the acceptance of the demand on the ground that it involves implications,” said Fazli Aala, general secretary of superintendents, assistants and clerks association, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The association’s finance secretary Shah Bakht said the establishment department had presented the case in a manner that chief minister would think more than once before taking his decision because the department had described the move prone to complications.

“…All Pakistan Clerks Association had time and again requested for upgradation of their posts which were examined on their merits in the establishment department and were regretted on the grounds that it will have implications for the rest of the cadres across all the government departments and involving huge financial implications,” contains the establishment department’s summary, which would be submitted to the chief minister after the provincial finance department’s comments.

An official of the establishment department said that the department was hesitant to take the decision because it did not want the provincial government to take a unilateral decision in this respect since the other provinces and the federal government had not upgraded the grade-7 to grade-14 posts.

However, the clerks’ leaders dismissed the argument, which has also been mentioned in the establishment department’s summary to the chief minister, rejecting on the ground that grade-7 to grade-14 posts of other services in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had already been upgraded in 2010 without taking under consideration the decision of the other provinces and federal government.

Mr Bakht said that the posts of junior clerks, senior clerks, and assistants had been upgraded last time in 2007, scaling them up to grade 7, grade-9, and grade-14, respectively. The decision was also applied to the audit cadre employees as the provincial government also upgraded the posts of senior clerks, 8,000 subordinate staff of KP govt at the receiving end junior clerks, and assistants.

In 2008, the decision was also applied to the teaching cadre, said the finance secretary.

“While the audit cadre got their posts upgraded again in 2010 and the teaching cadre got promotion again in 2012, the provincial government’s senior clerks, junior clerks, and assistants have been encountering resistance from the bureaucracy,” said Fazli Aala.

According to the association’s leaders, the Awami National Party-led provincial government had decided the matter in the workers’ interest and issued the instructions to upgrade the posts, but the decision remains unimplemented.

This made the association to move the Peshawar High Court which in an order on Feb 7, 2012 asked the provincial government, through its secretary of the establishment department, “for seriously considering the grievance of petitioners (over 100 employees) with regard to upgradation and equal treatment in accordance with law within three months positively and in no case they should be discriminated.”

The employees’ leaders said after the establishment department did not respond to the court’s order to its satisfaction, the court issued another order on Oct 16, 2012 and asked the authorities to explain their position vis-à-vis upgradation of the posts.

While the two sides continue to pursue the legal course to prove their point, according to the association’s leaders, the association recently moved the chief minister and the senior finance minister to look into their request.

“The establishment department’s stand carries consequences for 8,000 employees across the province,” said the association’s general secretary.

He said the posts’ upgradation would not cost the provincial exchequer more than Rs40 million a month whereas the establishment department’s stand vis-à-vis implications with regards to other cadres was also not based on facts.

“When it comes to subordinate cadres the senior bureaucracy makes a mess out of the employees’ rightful demands whereas they don’t take into account complications if they have to decide a matter in their own interest,” said Mr Bakht.

The establishment department, he said, had a great-20 officer as its secretary whereas two officers of the same grade were working under his subordination as special secretaries.

“They would not consider it as something prone to complications, but our posts’ upgradation involves implications for them,” said the association’s general secretary.

However, the official of the establishment department said the upgradation of the assistants’ posts to grade-16 (from grade-14) would create problems because section officers and private secretaries were also working in grade-16. “Their posts would need to be upgraded as well to remove the anomaly,” said the official.

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