Although four years have passed since the establishment of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board, the provincial government has yet to regularise the contracts of the employees.
The board has at least 20 staffers. All employees from the managing director to the peon have been working under constant fear that it may be their last year on
the board. “It’s like the sword of Damocles is continuously hanging over our heads as we may be fired at any time and renewal of our contracts refused upon expiry,” a senior official of the board told The Express Tribune.
With an annual budget of over Rs380 million at its disposal, the government never considered regularising their services. The employees, while talking to The Express Tribune, claimed they cannot even protest to force the government to regularise
“We need strength to force the government to regularise our services, but a protest with 20 people will mean the termination of our contracts before completion,” another employee said. A worker was recently terminated before his contract ended without prior notice or reason. The fear is forcing them to avoid talking to the media on record. However, after assuring that their names would not be mentioned, the employees vented their frustration over the anti-worker policies of the provincial government.
The IT staffers likened their situation to being on a slippery surface and said they could lose their footing any time one of the bosses disliked a gesture or even a suggestion. They said the only option left to them is to nod in agreement on every point regardless of where their hearts lie.
Another official claimed they were not entitled to any kind of allowances, including health or other perks and privileges. “It feels like we are working at a private firm, not a government institution,” he said.
Out of 20 employees, six had recently been hired on a contingency basis for six months, while the remaining 13 had been there since the establishment of the board in 2012.
“The board is facing a shortage of 15 staffers, but no announcement has been made in this context,” the official said.
He complained that their employment rights were not being protected. In case of removal from service, the employees barely go to any court due to the slow legal process as cases linger on for years. It was also revealed that due to the shortage of skilled staff, the board outsourced its projects to IT firms in Islamabad and Lahore.
“Instead of paying millions to those companies, it should recruit software engineers with practical experience in different fields of information technology from within K-P,” he said. When contacted, Minister for Health and Information Technology Shahram Khan Tarakai said he was aware of the staff shortage. “Further hiring has been planned as per the PTI-led government’s policy to improve performance,” he said.
The minister added the IT Board was an independent body and hiring was being done on a contractual basis. However, he assured a salary raise would be given to all employees along with health and other perks and privileges.
“The board will soon get directors and a board of directors to ensure transparency and the flourishing of IT in the province,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2016.