CONGRATULATIONS to the government, especially Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, for ordering a review on the Public Service New Remuneration Scheme (SPBA) for civil servants.
Najib's intervention is a positive step in resolving issues that cropped up when the option form was signed by civil servants last month.
While I appreciate the response from the Public Service Department (PSD) in being sensitive to the feelings of civil servants after being pressured by Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs), the civil servants' umbrella body, I hope whatever decision expected in two months will not compromise the remuneration for the middle and upper echelons of the civil service.
I sympathise with the lower-income group, but asking for salaries between the low- and high-income brackets to be narrowed is too much.
Remuneration should go with qualifications. Civil servants with higher qualifications should be rewarded accordingly.
During the last adjustment, years ago, the low-income group had a 35 per cent increment, whereas the high-income bracket got 15 per cent. Did we complain?
No, we appreciated what we got and were happy for the lower-income group, although we thought it was unfair.
Now, what Cuepacs is asking for is fair as far as the low-income group is concerned. And it has no choice but to fight for them because they make up the majority of the members.
Cuepacs needs this group's support, but it should also realise that professional groups are part of it.
Cuepacs and PSD should give due consideration to professionals. If the lower-income group gets a 30 per cent increment, professionals would also demand for 30 per cent because we have worked hard to climb the ladder.
What is the point of narrowing the bridge if graduates are expected to get almost the same pay as non-graduates? Why should we upgrade ourselves then?
I would have rather stayed as a non-graduate teacher if I knew that this was going to happen. With my 30 years of teaching experience, I would be almost on the same pay scale as a DG44 graduate teacher.
As a non-graduate, I would already be in DG34 by now and enjoy all the benefits, without having to finish my degree.
Friends who obtained their master's and PhD degrees are in the same boat. Their pay and mine are the same. What incentive has the government given to teachers who have a post-graduate degree?
Why is Cuepacs keeping mum? The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) has been saying that it had made its proposals to PSD. It has been saying the same thing for years.
Graduates, no matter in what field, are always treated as second-class civil servants because we do not make up a significant number in the union voting process.
NUTP officials depend on non-graduate votes, and so do other unions. They cannot survive without the low-income group. They need their votes to be in power. Hence, the demand for better perks for the low-income group.
Give the low-income group a decent deal but do not neglect those in the upper brackets because we are also part of the civil service.
In football terms, if the lower- income groups are the forwards who carry out the job, we are the midfielders and defenders who implement the policies outlined by the goalkeeper, the government.
To be bold, and maybe a bit crude, Cuepacs should realise that a Year Six or Penilaian Menengah Rendah-qualified employee cannot and should not demand pay increases to close the gap with professionals. Professionals deserve better than this.
With the new scheme, seniors, some with more than 25 years of experience, are being treated unfairly. It is embarrassing and humiliating to see juniors being on a par with us. Seniors' ego will be dented to see juniors being on a par with them, not through hard work, but through a flawed system.
Don't sideline professionals in the civil service, please.
K.G.S. Jayaraj, Sitiawan, Perak
Source: The New Straits Times Top News 25 January 2012