I WAS watching the news on television on Jan 16 and heard Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Private Services (Cuepacs) president Datuk Omar Hassan calling on the government to provide a special insurance scheme for enforcement officers, especially those carrying out duties outside working hours. He said Cuepacs would be having consultations on this with the prime minister soon.
Omar wants this insurance for enforcement officers like those in the Road Transport Department, who are on duty after office hours. I beg to differ. There is no such thing as off-duty hours for enforcement agencies. Even district council officers, health inspectors and officers from the religious departments have to carry out duties at odd hours.
The Cuepacs president should not be unduly worried about officers carrying out duties as per requirement. He should ensure that the enforcement officers, no matter which organisation they belong to, are protected 24 hours a day.
While we appreciate the long hours put in by officers in conducting roadblocks and raids to ensure the safety of people, it must not be forgotten that they are paid for with taxpayers' money.
No one will work for free. I am sure officers working outside the 9-to-5 working hours are duly compensated with allowances and over time. Maybe not all get the perks, but the majority do.
There are risks in any job. Even teachers are at risk. Teachers will not know when a student will spring a surprise on them.
I hope the Cuepacs president will look into the overall wellbeing of the civil service instead of a select few.
Ever since I have been in the civil service, I have seen Cuepacs championing the rights of employees on numerous occasions. But, sadly, they are always fighting for the lower-rung staff, ignoring those who have worked their way up by sheer determination.
Every time there is a pay or allowance review by the government, Cuepacs will spring into action to fight for better perks for the "rank and file".
It is assumed that those in the higher categories are well-off and do not need pay hikes and allowances.
The higher one is qualified, the better the remuneration should be. There is no point in complaining about those in the higher bracket getting better perks when a salary revision is made.
If you want better pay, work your way up. I am not belittling those who are in the lower rung of the civil service, but it is a fact that should be gracefully accepted by one and all.
I was once in the lower hierarchy of the civil service. There are many others in the same predicament. These officers deserve some recognition for improving themselves not only for personal gain but also for the future of the nation.
There are even some teachers who have qualifications such as masters degree or doctorate but they have been put in "cold storage" pending a review by the Public Service Department.
What are Cuepacs and the National Union of the Teaching Profession doing about it?
Every time the question is put forward, there is always a standard reply, "Perkara ini sedang dikaji" (the matter is being studied). And, study they should, but for how many decades?
My sincere hope is that the relevant unions will be realistic when fighting for the rights of their members. They should take into account the overall situation in the civil service and not only focus on the lower rung just because union office bearers' future lies in their votes.
Yes, the majority of union members and office bearers are from this particular group and naturally union leaders will be giving priority to their cause while ignoring others who are members, too.
If the Cuepacs president were to come up with a suggestion for an insurance scheme for enforcement officers, it's better for him to ask the government to consider insuring all civil servants 24-hours a day. We are not asking for free coverage. We shall pay according to our grades.
This option must not be made compulsory. It should be attractive to appeal to all workers. It should be a win-win situation.
I hope Cuepacs and the government will give a thought to this.
Jayaraj K.G.S., Sitiawan, Perak | email@example.com New Straits Times Letters to the Editor 18 January 2013