34,000 temporary govt employees get three-month reprieve

Kathmandu, July 17

The government has extended the contract of around 34,000 temporary employees, who were supposed to be relieved of their duties today, by three months following a week-long protest.

Chief Secretary Lok Darshan Regmi today directed secretaries to let the temporary employees remain in their jobs for three more months, according to Binod Bahadur Kunwar, spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers. Most of these employees were working for the central government for as long as 33 years as office assistants, helpers, drivers and janitors.

The Cabinet meeting held on July 10 had decided to lay off all temporary employees today, the first day of the fiscal year 2018-19, following a reduction in the number of ministries, departments and other offices in the centre and devolution of authority and responsibilities to provinces and local bodies as per the plan to institutionalise federalism. As the government was determined to dismiss them, no budget has been allocated to cover salary expenses of temporary workers in the current financial year.

But the government rolled back its decision today following a week-long protest by the All Nepal Government Temporary and Contract Employees Labour Union. The union has been demanding that ‘all temporary employees be adjusted at different levels of government despite the reduction in the number of ministries, departments and offices’.

The number of ministries in the centre has been reduced to 24 from 33 in the past, while the number of departments has been reduced to 54 from 64.

“The reduction in the number of ministries, departments, commissions, secretariats, offices and district offices should not result in mass unemployment,” said Bhupal Rasaili, central president of the labour union.

“We want the government to adjust all temporary employees based on their skill sets as they have made a contribution to the country for as long as 33 years,” he added.

The union has already handed over its demands to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration.

To address these issues, Chief Secretary Regmi today formed a five-member task-force, comprising secretaries of the Prime Minister’s Office and ministries of finance, law and federal affairs.

“This task-force will produce a report containing recommendations for management of temporary employees,” said Federal Affairs Secretary Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya.