Amid the stepped up agitation by employees over pay revision, the Andhra Pradesh government issued a fresh order on Saturday, January 29, correcting a minor anomaly in the house rent allowance (HRA), limited only to staff working in the offices of various heads of departments (HoD) around Vijayawada. Simultaneously, the government ordered disciplinary action against errant staff of the treasury department for failing to comply with its instructions on preparation of salary bills for the month of January 2022 as per the new pay scale.
The government is also said to be weighing the option of clamping the Essential Services Maintenance Act to thwart the indefinite strike called by Employees and teachers from midnight of February 6 demanding immediate withdrawal of the pay revision orders that were detrimental to their interests, according to official sources.
The fresh order issued by Special Chief Secretary (Finance) Shamsher Singh Rawat said all employees working in the HoD offices situated around Vijayawada in the Amaravati capital region would be paid HRA at 16% as against the 8% fixed vide the January 17 order. This would be on par with the HRA paid to the state Secretariat staff as well as other HoD employees located in Vijayawada, he said.
The latest order did not mention any changes in the other HRA slabs, one of the main causes of disgruntlement among employees in the whole pay revision exercise.
Protesting employees continued with their four-day relay hunger strike, which they launched on January 27, demanding withdrawal of the pay revision orders.
Meanwhile, the government decided to crack the whip against the agitating employees, particularly the Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs) and Sub-Treasury Officers (STOs), "who have failed in the discharge of their legitimate duties".
The Special Chief Secretary (Finance) issued a circular memo on Saturday, January 29, to all Special Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Secretaries of Secretariat departments, HoDs and district Collectors saying his earlier memos over preparing salary bills for January, as per the revised pay scales, were not complied with.
"Despite clear instructions and timelines, the progress is lagging and many DDOs have not prepared pay bills and STOs have not approved them. The government cannot and shall not be a bystander to the flagrant violations of its instructions and for the acts of omission leading to non-payment of salaries to employees and pensioners," Rawat said in the memo.
Apart from initiating consequential action as per the conditions of service against those responsible for violation of rules, alternative arrangements also have to be made for payment of salaries and pensions for January, he said.
When contacted, some district collectors told PTI that they have "not yet" initiated any disciplinary action, as instructed by the Special Chief Secretary (Finance), against the treasuries officials, though the deadline ended at 6 pm on Saturday, January 29.
Government sources said, only the police personnel have not submitted letters requesting that they be paid salary (for January) as per the old pay scales. "All staff of other departments, as also teachers, have given their preference to the respective treasury officials to get paid as per the old scales of pay, along with the pending dearness allowance dues," a senior official of the Finance Department said.