Civil servants refute RCSC’s stand

Civil servants who say they are affected by the Royal Civil Service Commission’s (RCSC) reforms have refused to accept the commission’s stand of addressing the issue of stagnation and have suggested reverting to the old system or consider revisiting the current system to make it agreeable to both parties.

“In line with the constitution, Bhutan Civil Service Act and Bhutan Civil Service Rules, 2012, maintain same promotion period for all categories” the group has suggested adding that it would also be better to separate selection system for In-service degree holders similar to that of B.Ed.

The group of around 400 civil servants from various government agencies signed a petition against the recent RCSC civil service reforms.

They have also suggested that the “Vested right principle must be applicable from the time BCSS reform was effective and all remapped civil servants must come under the vested right principle”.

For the bachelor’s degree holder, they said that it would be fair if RCSC could maintain civil servants, who upgraded to bachelor’s degree, in P&M category or allow in-service civil servants with a bachelor’s degree to advance along S&S to P&M rather than to SS. “If in-service civil servants with a bachelor’s degree cannot be considered, at least consider those who passed BCSE but were non-select,” the group stated.

They also refuted RCSC’s claim that the 5-year promotion has affected only a small number of civil servants stating that it has affected 4,370 civil servants, who are currently in S1 and above. This is 17% of the 25,517 regular civil servants and includes 2,103 who were removed from Professional category and brought down to Senior Supervisor category, from which 718 are bachelor degree holders.

The group said the commission has attempted but unfortunately failed to resolve altogether the issue of stagnation, which still persists in S&S category itself. Even with the reform, 772 ( 7%) civil servants who entered at S1 will be stagnant in SS1 for 9 years excluding 5 years in SS1, while another 3,047 (27%) who entered at S2 will be stagnant for 5 years, the group has stated.

Moreover, 1,373 (12%) and 4,894 (44%) civil servants who entered at S4 and S5 respectively will in their whole career life not reach the highest position level of SS1. “Unfortunately, for 6,267 (56%) civil servants who entered at S4 and S5, it is a false promise. It’s like a red juicy apple on tree, hanging so low yet so far to pluck,” the group stated.

According to the group, the current reform has only resolved stagnation issues for 1,162 (10%) civil servants who entered at S3. Hence, this is a clear case of a job half done or work done without much of homework.

They said that if RCSC is really concerned about and wants to resolve stagnation in civil service, it is the P&M category that merits major reform justifying that progression to P1 will be allowed only through open competition and that too shall be determined by available slots. Hence, the majority in P&M category will be stagnated within 2 to 3 promotions which is estimated to be 8 to 12 years of career life. “While for S&S category, we are to serve for at least 25 years before getting stagnated,” they stated.

“For instance, currently, there are 12,750 (48%) civil servants in P&M category. From that current slots available for P1 or Division Chief is only 729 or little less than 6% plus 300 (2%) to Executive or Specialist positions. Hence, only a mere 1029 (8%) from 12,750 have the opportunity to progress and climb the career ladder,” one of the affected civil servants stated.  He said that from this, it is clear that 11,721 (92%) in P&M will be stagnated at P2 position level or Dy. Chief Positions for a stretched period of career.

It can be safely assumed that the attrition rate of civil servants will be alarming in P&M category. “In few years of time, it is expected that if no reform is done, that there will be huge exodus of CS from P&M category.

The group pointe out that the RCSC annual report 2014-2015, shows that of the total civil servants exiting in the past 5 years 52.7% was from P&M category while it was only 34% from S&S category.

Regarding the recognition of bachelor’s degree, the group said that in-service civil servants were compelled to upgrade their qualification by the Position Classification System where a minimum qualification of bachelor’s degree was mandatory to climb to P&M from S&S. Hence, 718 civil servants in S&S category took the pain to upgrade with no benefits at all. “Those who failed to secure government scholarship did it through self-funding both within the country and abroad with the hope that it would help them in career progression or clear the PCS blockade,” the group stated. “The up gradation was done at the cost of seniority loss, from 18 or more months due to unaccounted study period plus one year promotion duration increase.”

The group said that after going through stiff challenges they were remapped to SS level which further aggravated the disgruntled in S&S category. Now RCSC intends to deprive of them the study leave, competition for managerial posts, opportunities for trainings, workshops, symposium etc. “This results in creation of huge disparity and discrepancies within the civil service,” the group stated.

“Although it is clearly reflected in civil service rules, RCSC stopped the practice from 2014 without any notifications which we failed to understand the rationale behind,” the group claimed.

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