ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led federal government has decided to regularise contract employees of all ministries and divisions, including over 12,000 of the power distribution companies (Discos) appointed during the previous tenure of the PML-N.
Sources told The Express Tribune that the government has formed a committee under the chairmanship of Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain with the secretaries of the Establishment Division, finance, law, railways and power as its members. The committee has been tasked with forming a uniform policy for the regularisation of the contractual staff working in various ministries and divisions.
The officials said the Power Division had moved a summary to the cabinet in a recent meeting seeking permission to regularise 12,011 contract employees hired by Discos during the previous tenure of the PML-N government.
However, during discussion in a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the cabinet members raised an issue of a large number of contract employees who were awaiting regularisation in many other divisions and their subordinate offices as well. Thus, the cabinet members said that a unified policy regarding regularisation of contract employees working in all ministries and divisions should be formed.
The officials said Discos were placed on the privatisation list in 2014. Since then no regular recruitment had been made. However, with the expansion in the distribution network and retirement of employees, ample shortage of staff in Discos developed overtime. Resultantly, the impact could be seen in customer services and response time.
The Ministry of Water and Power approached the Privatisation Commission seeking permission for recruitment in these Discos on which the commission allowed proceeding for fresh hiring on September 16, 2015 subject to the conditions that only critically required officers and staff as determined by the ministry on the basis of technical requirements may be hired against the sanctioned posts.
The commission said hiring should be for posts covered in accordance with the last tariff petition submitted or going to be submitted to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) by that entity. It was further said that hiring may only be made on a contract basis with a maximum duration of one year.
The Discos proceeded with hiring in 2015-16 against the sanctioned posts in accordance with the guidelines of the Privatisation Commission and those employees were still working on contract. As per prevailing services rules in Discos, the services of employees recruited in grades 1 to 16 were required to be declared regular after two years in service and services of employees in Grade 17 and above after one year in service based on performance.
The officials said there was a settlement between the Labour Union (CBA) and the management of Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) according to which regularisation of contract employees had been agreed upon and according to Section 49 of Industrial relations Act 2012, the implementation of the settlement between CBA and the management was legally binding.
The Labour Union had given notices to Pepco and is agitating for regularisation of the human resource hired in 2015-16 after completing the minimum required length of service of contract - two years.
The officials said the operation and maintenance system of Discos were still manual and could not be kept operational without trained manpower. This, coupled with extreme weather conditions, made the availability of trained manpower inevitable just to keep the system operational round the clock.
The officials said there were a total of 15,261 contract employees ranging from grades 1 to 18. Over 12,011 employees had experience of more than two years. These contract employees were the backbone of the Discos providing service to the general public.
These contract employees, after putting in more than two years of service, now had a legitimate reasonable expectation for further vertical career progression.
Financial implications involved in regularisation of these 12,011 employees amounted to around Rs1.9 billion per annum.
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