After a long wait and some mind-boggling exercises, the state’s finance department has come out with a regularization policy for the casual and other workers.
The policy was long overdue given the mammoth appointment and hiring of various casual workers that had taken place over the years. Not only the present regime but all the governments since the past several decades had been involved in piling up the long list of casual workers who continued to serve in various government departments despite working on a meager amount.
Jammu & Kashmir Casual and Other Workers – Regular Engagement Rules 2017, made public under SRO-520 issued by the Finance Department will benefit nine categories of such appointees including daily-rated, casual, seasonal, HDF (Hospital Development Fund) and local fund workers, NYCs, land donors and ad-hoc/contractual appointees left-out under the J&K Civil Services (special provisions) Act 2010 for want of eligibility criteria. The policy will also take care of ITI trained workers engaged by various Departments.
The government had made this commitment during the previous budget session that the process for regularization of casual workers of various categories, whose fate was hanging in balance for decades, will start from the next financial year.
According to the SRO-520, these workers will be categorized as skilled and non-skilled on the basis of their educational, technical and professional profile, for regularization and the remuneration will be commensurate with the length of their engagement. The regularization process would begin immediately and on regularization they shall be designated as Government Services Assistants (GSA).
They will be entitled to all the financial and service benefits including annual increment, pension under NPS, leave and medical reimbursement, periodical hike in remuneration akin to pay commission, maintenance of service records and will be covered under work, conduct and discipline rules, including retirement.
Now the technical details and the fallout they will have on the daily rated wagers who will be benefitted by the scheme will take some time to settle down and get implemented on ground. However, several questions have cropped up since the announcement of this policy or the SRO, which the government has notified.
One important issue is that will this be the end of the process of appointing various casual rated and need based workers in various departments. If the process will continue like it was being followed, how will the government ensure that the new recruits make their way into the government departments under a just process. As one thing is sure the casual workers who were appointed over the years were mostly political workers of various parties who were given some benefits owing to their allegiance to these parties.
Or if the government is not interested to recruit fresh casual workers then what stops the government from issuing a ban on such practices. The issue is of utmost importance as it concerns the state exchequer and the tax payer equally.
Secondly, what are the plans the government is going to following to get those on board who have been left out of this scheme. There are various workers who have been complaining over the past one week that the SRO has excluded them. The government needs to take a holistic view and try to get all on board for the common good.