Govt employees back to work

KATHMANDU: Civil servants' unions, affiliated to various political parties, today suspended all their protest programmes, in response to the government's decision to hike the salary of government employees.

After a week-long protest, the government staffers joined their duties. The otherwise tense situation in Singha Durbar, where the country's apex administrative bodies are located, regained normalcy today.

The unions, however, said the increment was not enough in view of the skyrocketed commodity prices. They, however, said that they would adopt another means of voicing their demands.

Subodh Kumar Devkota, general secretary, Nepal Civil Servants' Union, said they had suspended all the protest programmes. "It's because all of our demands have been addressed," he said.

Madhesi Civil Service Employee's Forum, Nepal, appreciated the decision, though discontented with the amount increased. President Binod Kumar Singh said, "Besides the pay hike, there are other demands, which need to be addressed promptly." He demanded, for instance, the implementation of the recommendation made by the high-level commission for fixing the salaries.

Ganesh Bashyal, president, Civil Servants' Organisation, said, "Though the increment is too meagre, we need to be responsible since the bureaucracy is the permanent form of government." Maoist-affiliated National Civil Servants' Federation has also called off its protest, but with dissatisfaction over the increment. It said all the union members had been directed to return to work.

The government's decision to raise the salary of its staffers will cost it an additional Rs 12.3 billion, meaning that funds will need to be diverted from development projects. Shanker Prasad Adhikari, spokesperson, Ministry of Finance, said there were are ways for reshaping the budget such as cutting out some third-priority projects.