Civil servants on long-term study leave fight for full pay revision benefits

KP Sharma

Even as the teaching profession and their benefits are in the picture of the five political parties, there is an issue related to the pay revision of teachers -those on long -term training.

Recently, a group of 11 teachers undergoing long-term training (LTT) met with the finance ministry officials  requesting “fair entitlement” of the recent pay hike benefits, like other civil servants. The issue surfaced when those on LTT received a comparatively low salary increase, creating a gap between them and those providing active service.

The explanation from the finance ministry was straightforward. Officials explained that individuals on LTT should view themselves as students rather than teachers.

They were asked to understand the distinction between teachers in the field and those on LTT, stating that teachers on training are not actively engaged in teaching and also receive a monthly stipend of Nu 8,000. The officials clarified that granting the same pay hike to teachers on LTT would result in earning more than active teachers, despite placing them on a full government scholarship.

“The hike should be viewed as an incentive for teachers LTT, attainable upon the completion of their M.Ed programme,” they argued. However, teachers or civil servants  on LTT disagree saying that the  finance ministry deemed it inappropriate to provide a different pay hike for civil servants on LTT.

On the other hand, the officials further suggested that if the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) can formulate a policy-oriented decision that highlights the benefits of human resource development through the LTT program, then the RCSC has the authority to propose and advocate for a pay hike for those on LTT.

Civil servants expressed their dissatisfaction, stating that the ministry’s decision based on few principles lacks consistency. They argued that civil servants on maternity leave, short-term training (STT) and long-term training (LTT) all fall under the same category, where each contributes as an active service provider in different ways.

A participant at a meeting said that the primary goal of the pay revision was to address the rising cost of living and to ensure that civil servants receive fair compensation to live a reasonable living standard. “Civil servants on leave also experience the same inflation as other civil servants,” he said.“We are equally affected by inflation and the high cost of living, denying the pay hike to in-country LTTs would deviate from fulfilling the objectives of the pay revision.”

Teachers on study leave are  arguing  that the masters programme for teachers was aimed at ensuring teachers upgrade their qualification and contribute to nation building.

“During the M.Ed. program, teachers actively engage in educational research and play a crucial role in recommending and contributing to policy-making,” said one.

Meanwhile during the 51st meet-the-press session, former Prime Minister, Dr Lotay Tshering announced that civil servants on in-country LTT are eligible for a pay hike and the issue was supposed to be tabled during the last session of the cabinet.

The civil servants on LTT stated that the pay hike for civil servants on maternity leave and STT, as well as revision for national workforce wage rate were successfully implemented following their presentation to the cabinet. However, the pay hike for civil servants on in-country LTT remains pending.

The group has also taken the matter to the RCSC and is awaiting the commission’s decision on the issue.