Civil service: The recent reform of the Bhutan Civil Service System (BCSS) by the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) to introduce a new concept of Senior Supervisory (SS) to the Supervisory and Support (S&S) category has left most civil servants in this group disgruntled with the commission’s new regulation.

The new concept of Senior Supervisor (SS2 to SS4) was introduced to replace the overlapping position levels of P3, P4 and P5 (P refers to Professional and Management category) as per RCSC. Additional career advancement up to SS1, which is equivalent to P2, is also provided for every civil servant in S&S in the new reform.

However, several in-service degree holders in this category have shared their dissatisfaction with the new regulation.

The reform that came into effect starting March this year has remapped 2,103 civil servants from P (P5, P4 and P3) to the new SS (SS4, SS3 and SS2) category.

The new reform was done without any consideration for the upgraded education qualifications to bachelor’s degree and the huge experiences this group has gained serving in the field level for long period of time, claimed the group (in-service civil servants).

RCSC in their notification dated March 4 has cited that such a reform was done following nationwide consultations. “While we agree that consultations was done, the junior officials were dispatched who had no authority and capacity whatsoever to take decisions and recommend a solution to the disgruntlements raised,” said a civil servant. “In some areas civil servants above P4 were called for the consultations, failing to include the affected ones.”

The group also claims that the commission has singled out and has targeted only this section of the civil servants, which was tantamount to a downgrade and hence are confused, demoralised and demotivated.

One of the main issues the group has is with regarding to the recognition of their degree certificate. Under the Position Classification System, the group said that many were compelled to upgrade their qualification in order to climb the career ladder in the civil service.

One of the representatives of the group said that unless they upgraded their education qualification, under the PCS regulation, they were bound to get stagnated within the broadband promotions for their entire service life.

However, upon returning after having successfully upgraded their qualification and ready to shoulder more and challenging responsibilities, they were remapped to SS levels. “We became the victim of ever changing policy of RCSC,” said one of the representatives.

Another issue faced by the group with the new reform is the fixation of the promotion period from four years to five years for this category.

As per the notification, those exclusively in SS level will serve five years for second and subsequent promotions. On the contrary, the promotion duration for all other levels (P&M, S&S and O levels) has been maintained at four years.

The group claims that this provision of the reform contradicts Article 25, Section 5 of the Constitution which states: “The commission shall, in the interest of promoting merit, productivity and equity, ensure that uniform rules and regulations on recruitment, appointment, staffing, training, transfers and promotion prevails throughout the civil service.”

It is the promotion part, which they are unhappy about. One of the representatives said that this is going to significantly affect them in terms of accrued promotions delays. For example, ideally, in just over a 20-year career, civil servants in the SS category would get only four promotions while those in other categories would get five. “This translates to substantial disadvantages comparatively in financial benefits such as salary and increments,” said the representative.

“There is no logic why a particular group of civil servants must serve a year extra to get promotion when the position categories above and below serve only four,” another representative said. “Such a reform creates disparity, discrepancies and inequality among the civil servants and is very discriminatory.”

Another issue is on the vested right principle. RCSC, according to the group has made it clear that to reach the P&M level, the only way is through BCSE. According to the 2015 RCSC Annual Report, “Only those who enter the civil service through the BCSE will be placed in Professional and Management category.”

However, the group said that the RCSC’s claim of BCSE being the only entry door to the P&M category is contradictory. Under the vested right principle, the group claims that civil servants with a bachelor’s degree but not selected through BCSE, were also placed in the P&M category including those civil servants with only a diploma and certificate qualifications also.

For example, all the assistant officers such as assistant information and media, procurement, employment, labour, gewog administration, and planning, and human resource officers are remapped from S1 to P5-B level under the vested right principle in the reform.

While those in P3, P4 and P5 level with a bachelor’s degree, a diploma or a certificate but without a vested right principle are remapped into the new position of SS2 to SS4.

“This clearly portrays inconsistencies, disparity and discrepancies in the reform,” said a representative.

Therefore, the group has decided to appeal to the Prime Minster.

The group suggests that their degree certificates be recognised and to allow in-service civil servants with a bachelor’s degree to advance along S&S to P&M rather than to SS.

Also the group pleads in line with the Constitution, Bhutan Civil Service Act and Bhutan Civil Service Rules 2012, to maintain same promotion period for all categories and the vested right principle be applicable to all the remapped civil servants under the new BCSS reform.

Younten Tshedup