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Thursday, November 24, 2011

PROBLEMS OF STENOGRAPHERS WORKING IN DEPARTMENT OF POSTS & OTHER CENTRAL GOVERNMENT SUBORDINATE OFFICES

The following comments/suggestions are sent by Shri Krishna Murthy, who is the Treasurer of AIPSA and
Working Committee Member of AP Circle.  All are requested to send their views/suggestions on the issue:

There has been a debate going on about the eligibility criterion for promotion to the post of Private Secretary. Before going into the debate, we must admit certain realities as follows:

(i) That the post of Private Secretary is no charming in the present scenario in the absence of any financial upgradation in as much as the Grade Pay of Rs.4600 attached to the post of Private Secretary is being usually reached even by a Grade II Stenographer, thanks to MACPS for making the elevation to PS a lackluster.

(ii) That Stenographer is a common cadre post that exists in all the Departments of Government of India and not exclusive for any particular Department like DOP and that it is a Circle cadre up to Grade I and not all India cadre. Stenographer cadre is governed by the DOPT regulations made from time to time in all respects viz. recruitment, promotions and upgradations. There is no feasibility in the idea of having a different basic structure. The individual departments are left with very limited freedom to amend or to deviate from the mainstream.

(iii) That with the advent of restructure of cadre in the ratio of 40:40:20 in 1999/2000 (in all the departments), the stagnation in getting promotions has been removed to a large extent. Prior to restructure, promotions in Steno cadre depended upon the number of Directors/PMGs posts, which involved transfers and movements as they were post-specific. Restructure provided for promotion to the Stenos wherever they work.

(iv) That in order to get promotion to Grade II. Grade I, a prescribed service in the lower grade is made essential. Similarly, for elevation to PS, the official should have completed at least 2 years in Grade I and/or 7 years put together in Grade II and I. This makes very clear that the promotional layers (hierarchy) are indispensable.

From the above points, it is clear that it is not possible to amend the recruitment rules of PS (by making it all India cadre right from Grade III for reckoning the seniority) in respect of Postal Department alone and that according promotion overlooking the seniority in higher grades would result in heavy resentment in higher grade stenos. And it also makes mockery at the hierarchical advantages. It is not unique for the stenographers alone that a junior in one circle becomes senior to another person (who joined earlier) in other circle. For example, Postal Assistants and Sorting Assistants are Divisional cadre. The same kind of ‘injustice’(procedure) takes place in most of the cadres. Postal Assistants/Sorting Assistants become a Circle cadre only when they are elevated to LSG and it is not their date of joining in their respective units (Divisions) or the examination year for considering promotion. The case of Inspectors is altogether a different one. An official (PA/SA/Steno etc) changes his line to executive by getting through the Inspectors examination conducted by the DOP and hence naturally the batch (examination year) forms the basis irrespective of local (Circle) promotions. This is common with all executive cadres right from inspector (in all State/Central Govt. Departments) to IAS.

The VI CPC has merged the scales (in the pre-revised) of Grade II and Grade I and attached the same Grade Pay of Rs.4200/-. The DOPT has issued model recruitment rules for Grade II with a Grade Pay of Rs.2400/-. An exercise is going on in all the Departments (including Postal) to merge the Grade II and Grade I and call it hereinafter as Grade I with Rs.4200 GP. This goes to say in future there will be only two grades viz. Grade II and Grade I. In such a case, it is inevitable to consider the promotion to PS on the basis of the length of service put together in Grade II and Grade I unlike the present seniority in Grade I. To mitigate the seniority issues, we may demand for making the stenographer hierarchy up to PS. This is prevalent in Income Tax Department where PS is a Circle cadre. It is all India cadre only from Senior PS. Now, most of the promoted stenographers are not joining PS post as it involves all India movement. This would be really very encouraging and faster promotions would happen at Grade II and Grade I also. Seniority is protected 100%. It may not be difficult or objectionable for the Department also as it does not involve any financial implications. All that to be done is that the DOP has to take the approval of the DOPT. We may persuade the Department of Posts to take it up with the DOPT. The same process was carried out in respect of ASP cadre when it was made a Gazetted post. As such, it is not impossible.

There has been another demand very strongly aired by our comrades i.e. change of the nomenclature to Executive Assistants. The VI CPC recommended for future recruitment for ‘Executive Assistants’ in all the Central government offices in the pre-revised scale of Rs.6500-10500 i.e. with a Grade Pay of Rs.4200/-. This is no advantage to the presently working Stenographers as more work is attached to the post. Stenography skill is just a value addition under this concept and we may have to work as clerks also. To give the natural death process to the stenographer cadre, that the VI CPC resorted to recommend this. This is in fact a death knell to the cadre. In future, there will be no stenographers in the central government departments. The usual practice in respect of dying cadres is to give elevation to the present working officials. Instead, the Government is trying to exploit the cadre by adding additional burdens. As such, it is not prudent to insist on the change of the designation as it involves additional heap of duties.

With the advent of PMG (BD) and DPS (BD), shortage in Stenographers cadre has become more acute, particularly at Circle Hqrs. It is highly essential for the leadership of AIPSA to insist on upgradation of one Steno post in the Circle as PS to PMG (BD) at least if not creation of a PS post. We may carry out a similar exercise for matching savings as done in the case of IPoS. Now, there are only 46 PS posts in the DOP and if PS to PMG (BD) is accorded, another 20 posts will be added to the score.

When compared to the erstwhile ACP, the present MACPS is very disadvantageous to the Stenographers. Promotional hierarchy is not being observed in MACPS. The Grade II scale under V CPC was Rs.5000-150-8000 and for 1st ACP too, it was the same scale. In the absence of a regular promotion to Grade II, ACP was like an oasis. Now, under the MACPS, in the absence of a regular promotion to Grade II, a Grade III Steno is offered Rs.2800 Grade Pay instead of Rs.4200. Rs.2800 corresponding to Rs.4500-125-7000 in the V CPC does not exist in the stenographer hierarchy. What a funny and pity is this injustice meted out to stenographer! The main spirit of ACP or MACPS is to remove the financial stagnation for the officials who are deprived of a promotion. Removal of financial stagnation should be done in the cadre hierarchy only. The MACPS is against the principles of natural justice. However, one ray of hope is that the DOPT vide No.42012/1/2011-Estt (D), dated 5.2.2011 and circulated by the DOP vide No.4-7/(MACPS)/2009-PCC, dated 16.5.2011 it was mentioned that “it has been decided that the necessary information in respect of the specific categories of employees where the MACPS is less advantageous than the erstwhile ACPS may be called for from the Ministries of Railways, Defence, Urban Development, Home Affairs and Department of Posts for taking a conscious decision in the matter.” Though it was mentioned in that letter that a copy of the same was marked to all the recognized unions, it was not actually given to AIPSA. Our learned President and GS should necessarily act on this without losing any time. This is an opportunity to provide some justice to the Grade III Stenographers.

However, it is to be borne in mind that all the issues I discussed hitherto in this article are not within the purview of the parity with CSSS. Parity is a different issue for which we are fighting.

Shortage/non-filling up of Grade III posts is another mind-boggling issue encountering us. 50% of the Grade III posts are to be filled up through Departmental examination. Since the V CPC equated the pay scales of Steno Grade III and the PA cadre (the feeder cadre for Stenographer Grade III), promotion examination to Steno Grade III has gone into oblivion. No PA is bothered to apply for it and no Circle is obliged to hold it. We should persuade the DOP to take it up with the DOPT for conversion of the entire DP quota into DR quota. Otherwise, the DP quota posts will be left unfilled forever and there is the hanging sword of abolition of vacant posts for more than a prescribed period. I came to know that the limited Departmental examination in Central Secretariat has also been dispensed with. Now, it is 100% DR in CSSS, if I am not wrong. It may stand as a technical obstacle also in our case of parity.

Let us hope for the best being practical.
K.S.Krishna Murthy
Treasurer, AIPSA.