PM intervenes to end row
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday directed the secretaries concerned to examine the new pay scale's "discriminatory provisions" involving different sections of professionals, including public university teachers, and take steps accordingly.
The PM gave the directive at a meeting on the issue, meeting sources told The Daily Star.
The development came a couple of days after public university teachers threatened to go on an indefinite work stoppage from January 11 if "the discriminatory provisions" are not cancelled by January 10.
Hasina sat with the secretaries after several senior ministers raised the matter at yesterday's cabinet meeting at the Secretariat.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said the gazette on the Eighth National Pay Scale does not reflect the decisions of the cabinet committee on removal of salary discrimination, cabinet sources told The Daily Star.
Apart from them, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury spoke of removing salary discrimination against agricultural scientists.
The PM then asked a few secretaries, who are members of the cabinet committee, to sit with her separately to discuss the issue, added the sources.
Since the issuance of the gazette on December 15, public university teachers have been protesting the exclusion of selection grade and time scale.
Teachers of government colleges, doctors, engineers, agriculturists and scientists have also been pressing for fixing “anomalies” in the pay scale.
Talking to The Daily Star, a senior minister said something positive would happen following the PM's directive.
“The prime minister took note of the problems and asked the secretaries to take necessary measures,” said the minister, asking not to be named.
In a press statement last night, the finance ministry said it will see whether there is any anomaly in the new pay scale.
The education ministry is working in line with the government decision to make sure that public university teachers get grades I and II in place of time scale and selection grade, read the statement.
The Finance Division will not object to any proposal from the education ministry on the matter, it added.
Contacted, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said they would sit soon and see if there is any discrimination and vagueness in the new pay scale.
If any anomaly is detected concerning any section of professionals, steps will be taken to resolve it, he added.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Bangladesh University Teachers' Association (FBUTA) hailed the PM's move.
“We hope our problems will be resolved and the prime minister's directives will not go in vain,” FBUTA President Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed told this correspondent.
The FBUTA, a platform of teachers from 37 public universities, has announced that it will go on an indefinite work stoppage at the universities from January 11 unless the government removes the "discriminatory provisions" by January 10.
Farid alleged that a section of top bureaucrats was responsible for the discrimination.
He said the cabinet committee suggested retaining time scale and selection grade to keep intact the dignity of university teachers. But those bureaucrats ignored the suggestions, and came up with a new pay scale without time scale and selection grade, depriving the teachers of grade-I privileges.
Under the new pay scale, university professors will retire as grade-III employees with the status of a joint secretary, he said.
Farid demanded full implementation of the cabinet body's suggestions on the privileges and status of university teachers.
Dr Nur Ahmed, chief scientific officer at Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, said scientists have been subjected to discrimination in the new pay scale, and the matter should be settled immediately.
“Scientists and BCS cadres used to join service in the ninth grade in the previous pay scale. But under the new pay scale, BCS cadres will get the privileges of the eighth grade and scientists that of the ninth grade,” he said.