Mirwaise Khan is pursuing an MPhil in Finance from BUITEMS. He also works as a columnist and has been writing opinion and editorial articles for the Daily Times.
Driving Force Behind Employees Protest in the Capital
Institutions can pull off their goals and objectives effectively and efficiently if their employees have better motivation, production efficiency, satisfaction, loyalty, and good organizational citizenship behavior. This is doable if employees have a positive “justice perception” about their institution or employer. In Pakistan, the justice perception of employees is immensely influenced by the salaries of government employees.
The idea of the justice perception in the organization was given by Greenberg in his “Organizational Justice Theory” in 1987. It is the perception of the employees regarding how fairly they are treated by their employer. It is the negative justice perception among the federal and provincial employees that caused them to protest in Islamabad.
The negative perception was aggravated by the fact that the injustice occurred at different levels and in different departments and ministries of Pakistan. The protest got vicious on 10th February 2021 when the capital’s police and the government employees clashed, leaving many of them injured.
The fierce protest sandbagged the federal government to announce a disparity reduction allowance of 25% on the basic pay of BPS-2017. Furthermore, the Finance Division of the Government of Pakistan announced that it will take effect from 1st March 2021 and urged the provincial governments to do the same from their resources.
Distributive Injustice as the Core Issue
The rise in salary is not the bottom line. Instead, the main obstacle is the existence of distributive injustice in the government pay structures, which cannot be resolved with the 25% rise in the pay of the government employees. The latest increase of 25% in the pay is no doubt indispensable, due to the rise in inflation, but the government should also try to bring equality and justice in the pay structures across the board if it is interested in resolving the negative justice perception.
According to Greenberg, positive justice perception can be ensured by the employer if he maintains distributive justice. Distribution justice deals with how fairly the remuneration is distributed among the employees. Greenberg states this justice can be ensured by paying remuneration to the employees based on three models—the equity model, the equality model, and the need-based model.
By using the equity model, employees are paid based on their inputs. In the equality model, they are paid equally regardless of measuring their inputs; in the case of the need-based model, they are paid based on their needs. The government of Pakistan, being the employer, should be offering an equal and fair pay structure to its employees working in different departments and ministries of the state.
Unfortunately, this is not the ground reality as the pay structures of different government servants in Pakistan vary from department/ministry to department/ministry. This course has made the government pay structures at odds with Greenberg’s proposed models of distributive justice.
Pay comparison Based on Equality Model
A government servant with a BPS-14 grade in Lahore High Court receives around Rs. 50,782/- as a starting pay, while the same BPS-14 grade employee working in another government department takes around Rs. 28,000/-. Likewise, a government employee having a BPS-18 grade in Higher Education Institute gets around Rs. 75,000/- as starting pay, whereas in High Court a BPS-18 officer receives Rs. 116,495/-.
So, taking the above case into the consideration, if the Government of Pakistan pays different salaries to two different government employees holding the same grade but positioned in different departments, then, how can the government expect honesty, loyalty, and a non-corrupt attitude from the employees who are underpaid? Isn’t this an act of defiance of the equality model of Greenberg’s distributive justice?
Pay Comparison Based on Equity Model
In another scenario, a BPS-6 grade staff worker in Lahore High Court gets Rs. 35,771/- as a starting pay, which is almost equal to the Rs. 36000/- taken by the BPS-16 grade officer working in Higher Education Institute. Likely, BPS-17 grade officer from the Higher Education Institute receives around Rs. 50,000/-, which is almost equal to Rs. 50,782/- taken as starting pay by BPS-14 grade staff in Lahore High Court.
Therefore, How can the government expect performance, efficiency, and motivation from its employees, when it pays almost the same amount of remuneration to two different government employees holding different grades, even though the job of each grade necessitates different nature of efforts, inputs, and education? This means that the government pay structures are also in violation of the equity model proposed by Greenberg.
Disparity Based on the Need-based Model
Even, the need-based model of distributive justice is not enacted in the pay structures. As in some government departments, for example, a utility allowance is offered to the employees, while in some other departments it is not part of the pay. Similarly, house requisition allowance (HRA) is part of the remuneration of some departments, while in departments like the Excise and Taxation Department, this allowance is not even offered.
The executive allowance which was recently granted is another example of distributive injustice. The allowance is only given to the BPS-16 grade and above executive officers of Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), Provincial Civil Service (PCS), and Provincial Management Service (PMS) in KPK and the Civil Secretariat, Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Governor’s Secretariat, and Assembly’s Secretariat of Baluchistan, while the executive officers of other departments are deprived of it.
The Reason Behind the Distributive Injustice
One of the main reasons for the existence of distributive injustice in the government pay structure is the predominance of institutions—such as the courts, bureaucracy, and different federal and provincial secretariats—on the decision-making process of the federal and provincial governments in Pakistan. Therefore, these institutions, because of their stronghold on the government, have adopted such pay structures and policies which have mostly profited them.
The power of certain institutions in the government has bereaved the rest of the equally important departments and ministries of the state. This situation has created the problem of severe distributive injustice in the pay structures. It has recently compelled the employees of those departments and ministries, who have faced policy-level bias and are underprivileged, to protest.
The equality, equity, and need-based distributive injustices that exist in the government pay structures are the reason behind the negative justice perception among the government employees in Pakistan. It can also be inferred that the lack of distributive justice in the salaries of government employees in Pakistan can also be one of the main causes for the upsurge in poor performance, low motivation, low satisfaction, the disloyalty of employees, and corruption in the government sector.
The government of Pakistan needs to give resolute attention to the problems of equality, equity, and need-based distributive injustices when it comes to the pay of its employees. The negative justice perception among the government employees, which mostly leads to the protests, needs to be addressed with a fairer pay structure.
A new pay structure should be devised with rigorous research and by considering Greenberg’s equality, equity, and need-based models in mind. This pay structure should be able to treat all the government employees evenly based on their respective grades, efforts, and needs.
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