Parliament staff seek extra pay for overtime work

Kathmandu, December 14

Employees of the Parliament Secretariat have demanded extra pay for overtime job.

The government stopped providing remuneration for Parliament Secretariat staff’s overtime work from July 17. They said they would not work overtime from December 16 if they were not paid. That means they will work only from 10:00am to 5:00pm. This is the reason parliamentary committees have not been holding their meetings before 10:00am for the last one month.

In the past, parliamentary committees often held their meetings early in the morning.

Parliament Secretariat employees had received up to 80 per cent extra pay for overtime work during the first and second Constitutional Assembly meetings.

There are around 380 employees in the Parliament Secretariat although there are 435 postings.

KP Sharma Oli-led government decided to stop payment for overtime work as part of austerity measures.  Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Deputy-Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe and Chairperson of National Assembly Ganesh Prasad Timilsena have, however, demanded that the government continue to provide extra pay and perks to those employees who worked overtime. Speaker Mahara had even told  employees to continue working overtime, assuring them that he would seek to provide pay and perks for their extra work.

Due to Mahara’s assurance, employees worked in the morning and evening during the Parliament meetings in the budget session, particularly when the Parliament passed 16 fundamental rights related bills, but they didn’t get paid for their overtime work.

“Our demand is clear. If we have to work overtime, we should get extra pay. Otherwise, we will work only during office hours,” said Meg Raj Aryal, chair of Federal Parliament Employee Union, adding that the union was awaiting the decision of the Parliament Secretariat on their demands.

The Management Committee of Parliament discussed this issue with Minister of Finance Yuba Raj Khatiwada on Thursday. According to Parliament source, Minister Khatiwada had told the Parliament Secretariat that he would discuss the issue in the Cabinet and try to come up with a solution.

Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe said those people who worked overtime should get extra pay. She also said that she along with the Speaker had raised the staffers’ concerns with the prime minister.

One of employees said that staff should be present in the office two hours in advance for a scheduled meeting, meaning if a meeting was planned for 11:00am, the employees would  have to be present in the office at 9:00am.

Spokesperson for the Parliament Secretariat Roj Nath Pandey said if the government was not concerned about Parliament Secretariat’s concerns, then it should merge parliamentary service with administrative service.

Public Accounts Committee Chairperson Bharat Kumar Shah and Development and Technology Committee  Chairperson Kalyani Khadka said that there were no problems in running committees from 10:00am to 5:00pm. “But it will be difficult for us to hold committee meetings when parliamentary meetings start,” she said.

According to a parliamentary source, there is conflict between the Parliament employees and the political appointees. “Extra payment should be made only to permanent staff and not political appointees,” one employee said. “In the past even the cooks, drivers, sweepers and helpers of the office bearers of the Parliament qualified for the extra pay. They should not get such pay.”