Govt bows to staff on office timing

Gulbarga Division employees force a retreat on summer privilege order

The Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) had issued an order on March 17 changing the office timings in eight north Karnataka districts to 10 am-5.30 pm during April 1-May 31. The working hours have been 8 am to 1.30 pm during April and May, a privilege enjoyed by the employees from the last three and half decades.

Although the order to change to a 10 am to 5.30 pm shift was issued on March 17 it came to be known only after March 25.  Accordingly, in eight districts circulars were issued stating that all the State Government offices would function during the normal hours instead of privileged hours.

Taken aback of what they called ‘sudden, unilateral and arbitrary’ decision, the well-organised Karnataka State Government Employees’ Association acted.

Association Gulbarga district president B S Desai rushed to Bangalore, and along with State president Bhyrappa and Desai called on chief minister B S Yeddyurappa and chief secretary S V Ranganath to lodge their protest.

They warned that the employees would go on a strike if the summer timings, a gesture offered to the employees of Gulbarga division by the D Devaraj Urs government in 1972 were withdrawn.

It had a deafening effect and the DPAR in the eleventh hour on March 31 issued another order rescinding the March 17 order and restoring the office hours from 8 am to 1.30 pm.

Summer privilege

Considering the severity of summer in April and May when the mercury keeps hovering around 42 degrees the then government in 1972 changed the office hours in April and May to 8 am to 1.30 pm. It was sought to be changed for the first time in 1995 and could not be done owing to strong protest by employees. And the fiasco has been repeated now.

The special summer privilege is enjoyed by over two lakh employees of state government, its undertakings, boards, corporations and authorities in Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal, and Bellary districts of Gulbarga division, and Bijapur and Bagalkot districts of Belgaum division.

Though 8 am to 1.30 pm timing may save the employees who normally work under fans, air-coolers and air conditioners from the scorching sun, it is said to be very inconvenient for the general public as they find it practically difficult to get their work done during these hours. People largely feel it a discrimination as the entire working class including the central government, banks, insurance, etc, and more importantly the unorganised sectors work during the general hours braving scorching sun in the summer months.
However, for the state government it appears, convenience of its employees is more important than the convenience of people.

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