Saturday, May 14, 2011

University teachers and salary anomalies

The Island, , A. D. Abeyratna

Your editorial of Tuesday 10th May 2011 advising the Government to "pay the academicians more and make them work harder" is enlightening and should be read by those involved with determining salaries. But it is distressing to note that the decision makers at the Salaries and Cadres Commission who are hell-bent on safeguarding the benefits and posts of their Sri Lanka Administrative Service (SLAS) surely provide misleading advice to the political hierarchy in this regard. By the so called Circular No: 06 of 2006 has created not only salary anomalies but also disparities of posts. I the media several professionals expressed their concerns. Despite all that there seem to have no redress. SLAS officers - perhaps being conservative and orthodox- are under the impression that they are the decision makers and others should accept blindly what they say.

It is learnt that even professionals except medical officers have been categorized as executives along with the SLAS officers. The SLAS officers retain for them all higher posts in the public service though they now have surreptitiously included other profession in to their category. Those professionals are not entitled to apply for various posts reserved for SLAS in the public service. I would suggest that if the basic salaries of the professionals cannot be raised as in the period prior to the ill-famed Circular all professionals must be allowed to apply for posts now enjoyed only by the SLAS officers.

Similarly University academics most he paid better salaries like in other countries. There is no rule that all salaries should be below the level of Secretaries to the Ministries or those of the SLAS. Any person can become a Director/Secretary to a Ministry in this country if well connected to a politician. This is no secret. Salaries should be based on qualifications and performance. SLAS officers must be well conscious of the fact that they just join the service armed only with a degree (taught by University Dons). Afterwards they get trained in administrative rules and circulars and try to show off as decision makers although most of those are half baked and unfair. They need advice from Accountants, Lawyers and other professionals when making decisions. Most SLAS officers have more or less misunderstood the management concepts and out of sheer arrogance unfair and arbitrary decisions are being made much to the embarrassment and damage to the individuals. To have a better public service the monopolistic attitudes of those in the SLAS must cease to exist. This is demoralizing and harmful to the other professionals.

There should be panel of advisors independent of SLAS officers to meet and look into the matters of salaries of FUTA who should soften their position to make compromises to arrive at an amicable HE the President will do justice accordingly.

A D Abeyratna