Islamabad - The Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) has started downsizing as more than one hundred employees have been terminated only in last four months.

An official of the university told The Nation that the institute was over-employed and facing financial losses, therefore the administration started termination of the employees. He said that so far more than one hundred employees had been terminated and the toll could climb to nearly 300.

The administration in June reconstituted the Contract Review Committee (CRC) to undertake a formal review of the employees’ performance and then initiated action. The termination process took place in all seven campuses of the university while the staff included teaching faculty (Associate and Assistant Professors, Advisors, Lecturers, Research Assistants, Lab Assistants) and other non-teaching employees.

The official said that Comsats was being run like a private company instead of a public sector university. He said that the administration started terminating the employees after suffering big financial losses.

He said that a number of employees, who had been serving in the university for around a decade, have also been removed without following a legal procedure.  The CRC consisted of Professor Dr. Raheel Qamar, T.I Rector CIIT, Director In-charge concerned campus, Professor Dr. Irshad Saleem Bhatti Dean Sciences, Tahir Naeem Director PD and HRD, Dr Munir Akhtar, Advisor CIIT Wah Campus, nominees from Ministry of Science & Technology and Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Shahid Iqbal Registrar, Concerned HOD/ In-charge of Individual campuses.

The official said that all top management of Comsats is working on ad-hoc basis but it is taking decisions of a permanent authority. 

The university rule explains the provision of specific time period before termination and the removal of the service is also contained in the Efficiency and Discipline (E&D) Statutes. The university terminated the permanent, contractual, daily wages employees without any inquiry in the limited time.

The official said despite being the public sector university, around 80 per cent faculty is not tenured while administration is struggling to manage the employees because of financial burden.

“Initially the university absorbed the Ph.Ds and other employees beyond its capacity to achieve the ranking but now it is searching a way to come out of the existing crisis,” the official said.

He added that the permanent absorbed employees were also being offered the ‘terminal contract’ paving the way for their removal from services.

“Employees who resisted the terminal contract were also victimised by not releasing their salaries,” said official.

The official said instead of following the rules and regulations and performance, nepotism and favoritism were followed by CRC in taking action against employees.

However, the university act said that the services of the institute’s employees shall be confirmed after two years of continuous service, if the post and appointment are substantive and the work and conduct of the employees is found satisfactory, by offering an extended contract of four years or more.

Talking to The Nation, a terminated faculty member wishing anonymity said that the CIIT also removed senior faculty replacing it with less experienced and unqualified staff to control its expenses on academic side.

He said that the termination was being conducted regardless of the teaching experience, qualification and performance criteria.

“The process of sacking employees is not transparent and numbers of employees are silently going home in the hope given by the management that their contracts may be reviewed,” he said.

He said the employees on the job, official leave or abroad on study leave have also been terminated suddenly.

Earlier, an audit report issued by the Auditor General Pakistan (AGP) has also revealed severe financial misappropriations at Comsats.

The audit report had identified around Rs470 million irregularities only in the Islamabad Campus for misuse of funds and failing in recovering the amount.

The university administration in its written reply to The Nation said that no employee at CIIT has been terminated and only 116 have been ‘relieved’ of their duties from different Campuses after completing their contract duration.

Administration replied the figure of 300 employees is wrong, however, employees engaged for the specific assignment may in the future be released after completing their contract as per rules. “Majority of the employees whose contracts have not been extended are either those already superannuated and were hired for specific assignments or absconded without completing their contract duration and thus no further extension in their contract was approved,” it added.

The administration also said total employees’ strength, including faculty, officers and staff Grade employees, at CIIT is around 6000 and everyone in the institute is a contractual employee.

Meanwhile, Federation of All Pakistan University Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) condemned the termination of more than 300 employees by Comsats.

FAPUASA Islamabad Chapter Head Dr Shehzad Ashraf said that Comsats employees are terminated without following the set procedure.

The FAPUASA requested the President of Pakistan, Prime Minister of Pakistan and Minister for Science and Technology to take notice of the illegal termination of employees by the Comsats administration.