KARACHI: Despite facing a financial crisis, Karachi University (KU) has on its payroll around 50 retired employees, most of them working as non-teaching staff, sources told Dawn.
Appointment of retired individuals in such a large number, according to the sources, is not only a source of great frustration for junior in-service employees, but also a huge monetary burden on the cash-starved university.
Speaking to Dawn, university teachers said that hiring of retired employees on a contractual basis was a violation of the Supreme Court order and was making the current financial crisis worse as some staff members on key administrative posts, including those positions that were created, were receiving high salaries, pensions and perks.
“Teachers have to wait for months before they get money for academic purposes. But at the same time you can see retired employees being re-hired on huge salaries,” said a senior teacher, adding that the university administration recently increased its rate for overtime, ignoring the financial crunch.
According to him, there are three categories for hiring the retired staff: some are hired on their last salary at the time of retirement (approved by the chancellor), some on a fixed salary while others are given an honorarium along with pension. The well-paid categories are the last two groups, he says.
Teachers blame hiring of retired staff due to the increased political interference in university affairs and believe that there are cases in which even the university vice chancellor has no say.
Some teachers referred to a meeting that the Karachi University Teachers Society recently had with the vice chancellor during which, they said, the vice chancellor repeated his concern over funds shortage and said that he did not have money to pay salary to teachers.
Currently, they said, administrative posts like the vice chancellor, adviser to the vice chancellor, chairman of KU business school, librarian, director of finance, deputy director of finance and public relations officer were all acquired by retired persons.
They also pointed to violations in the hiring process and said that there were a number of top level appointments for which no approval had been taken from the syndicate, which was mandatory under the university code.
Citing a recent case, the sources said that the university administration, instead of publicising the post (of assistant public relations officer) in newspapers under rules, established a committee to select a candidate.
“Later, the administration refused to entertain internal applications as a person has already been selected for the post. Now, it is being said that a notification would soon be issued for his appointment, though no interviews have been held for the post,” a teacher said.
Teachers at the university also criticised the alleged nepotism being shown in the hiring of cooperative teachers, now re-named as teaching assistants and teaching associates.
University officials didn’t respond to emails with questions about the in-service retired staff. On the phone, university registrar Dr Moazzam Ali Khan briefly said, “The vice chancellor is of the opinion that official record can’t be shared [with journalists].”
Explaining position of the Karachi University Teachers Society (Kuts), president of the society Prof Jameel Kazmi said that the society in principle was against the hiring of retired staff, but it had to be done in teachers’ case to fill the gap created by faculty’s shortage.
“There are cases in which we don’t have any replacement and the university is forced to hire retired staff,” he said.
Hiring of retired staff, he said, was a common practice in Pakistan and there were government departments giving high pension and salary both to retired employees.
It is noteworthy that rehiring of retired employees on a contractual basis was banned under a Supreme Court 2011 order in the Haj corruption case.
The court stated that re-employment of retired government officers on senior positions was prima facie a violation of law. It was said that the re-employment was tantamount to blocking promotions of otherwise deserving officers and was not conducive to good governance.
Accordingly, the bench directed the federal and provincial governments to ensure that people were not hired on contract in violation of law. In particular, the practice of re-inducting retired officers should be discouraged.
Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2014