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Monday, March 2, 2015

from Mannar & Co to various allowances ~ unpredictability allowance

‘Going to work’ theme   …..  from Kalyana Parisu (English: Wedding Gift),  a 1959 Indian Tamil romantic drama film produced and directed by C. V. Sridhar in his debutstarring Gemini Ganesan, B. Saroja Devi  in the lead roles.  The film is remembered even today for the imaginary firm `Mannar and Co' track [credit Chitralaya Gopu aka Sadagopan], involving Thangavelu  where he goes to park and sleeps the day, pretending to be at work. Years later, in the film ‘Coimbatore Mapillai’ Vijay comes to  city and stays with his friend Goundamani, who also fakes employment going to Valluvar kottam for sleeping !  
People sleeping at Thanjai Rajaraja chola memorial


In Public Sector, Salary comprises of some fixed components – it was more of Gross Vs Net and nothing to do with ‘CTC’ – primary among the allowances was  the Dearness Allowance (DA) -  a cost of living adjustment allowance paid to employees.   Dearness Allowance is calculated as a percentage of an Indian citizen's basic salary to mitigate the impact of inflation on people. This DA is invariably linked to the – Consumer Price Index – more specifically - All India Consumer Price Index (General) for Industrial Workers (Base 1982=100)

To elaborate a little bit : the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is calculated using following steps :
a) Market prices are collected for 252 items by the Officials of Department of Statics and Department of Posts.  These prices of that item & place are sent to Central processing unit from 78 centres all over India
b) The   all   India   weights given  the  each  category   of  items  such  as  food 49.71%,  housing 9.77 % , fuel  9.49% , footwear 0.68% transportation 7.5 %, Medical 5.31 % Personnel care 2.92 % & Miscellaneous 26.31 % total 100% . CPI points are determined using this all India weights and prices of the 252 items.

With every Pay commission or pay revision in Banks and PSU Insurers, you might have seen or heard that the basic would go up – primarily because of DA getting merged with Basic – whereby the variable component in the form of DA gets reduced and Basic gets enhanced leading to increase in others like HRA, CCA, hill station allowance,  conveyance allowance, and PF benefits ….. Have read that the Dearness Allowance was introduced following the second World War, and was then known as the "Dear Food Allowance". The "Old Textile Allowance" was also introduced in 1947, though this was revised and reintroduced in 1953 as the "Revised Textile Allowance".  While there can be many other allowances,  this one titled 'unpredictability allowance'  sounds a lot strange. 

It is not here, but in UK for BBC whose staff can claim an 'unpredictability allowance' if their shifts do not follow a set pattern and they can be called in early or stay late, it has been revealed. It is stated that Workers receive the extra payments, as much as 20 per cent of their salary, if they work unpredictable and unsocial hours, including weekends, evenings and early mornings.

A request made under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that unpredictability allowance payments, made to those workers whose hours can be changed at short notice, have totalled £187,395,824, between 2009 and 2014.  There have been 90,384 payments to staff, although this would include workers who have received the allowance on more than one occasion. Additionally, staff who work between midnight and  6am can claim night pay.

A former BBC producer is quoted as saying that staff will on average receive around £5,000 a year in the bonuses.  'There isn't a commercial organisation in the world that would dream of offering backhand bonuses to staff who are already being handsomely paid simply to set an alarm clock,' he told the Daily Express. The producer, who was not named, said many BBC workers who take on anti-social hours are employed on a freelance basis, so are not entitled to the extra pay. He added: 'To give this payment to staff in case they work inconvenient hours is disgusting and an abuse of the licence fee.'
Workers could be called in on the day, or have their hours changed, if there is a need for them to work. The majority of these staff are believed to work in the corporations News division, due to its round-the-clock output. However, other broadcasters, such as ITV and Sky, do not give workers flexibility bonuses.  In recent years, the BBC has repeatedly come under fire for wasting money. The controversial IT project known as the Digital Media Initiative was axed by Director General Lord Hall at a cost of £100 million to the licence fee payer.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Feb 2015.


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