18 January 2010

'We're PAs, not secretaries'



By Regina Lee
PUTRAJAYA: What's in a job title? Plenty, in so far as the administrative secretaries -- generally referred to as personal assistants -- in government departments are concerned.
These PAs are unhappy because they are now called office secretaries, with some seeing it as a demotion.

Cuepacs, which represents more than 5,000 of these employees -- both administrative secretaries and assistant administrative secretaries, said the new term was announced in a circular on Dec 21 and came into effect on Jan 1.

Cuepacs president Omar Osman said the PAs have complained that the term does not reflect their image as the backbone of their bosses.

"It is not fair or befitting for the PAs, who have been in the position for so long, to suddenly need to have their title changed. This is very demotivating to them."

Cuepacs wants the old title to be restored.

Omar has also asked the Public Service Department to exempt PAs who have been in the service for 30 years from the Competency Level Evaluation (PTK) examination.

All 1.2 million government servants will have to take the PTK examination to qualify for a promotion.

"If the PAs don't pass their PTK, they are technically only known as 'acting administrative secretaries'."

Omar was speaking to reporters after a briefing with about 200 PAs from the Klang Valley yesterday.

He said he would be writing to the PSD director-general Tan Sri Ismail Adam on the matter.

A PA, who wishes to remain anonymous, said in her 30 years of service, she occasionally had to handle her boss' family matters and she does not deserve to simply be called an "office secretary".

"I have worked under so many government heads who have come and gone, and I certainly do not think that my job scope is just limited to the office as stated in the new title.

"When my boss wants to go on a vacation with his family, I am the one who has to do all the bookings.

"And if he has a wife who happens to be a socialite, who do you think does all the planning for her functions?"

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