State government employees registered their strong opposition to the proposed setting up of the Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) on the lines of the Indian Administrative Service by staying away from their offices whereby barely 25 per cent attendance was recorded at the Secretariat here on Thursday.
After a conciliation meeting called by Chief Secretary S. M. Vijayanand with the employees failed on Wednesday, the state government had announced that all those who failed to report for duty would lose the day's salary.
The employees fear that once KAS is implemented, direct appointments will be made to 29 departments in the Secretariat service and this is expected to create promotion - related problems for the existing staff.
While the Congress - led United Democratic Front staff association decided to shirk work on Thursday by merely signing attendance, the employees affiliated to the Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI - M) and Communist Party of India (CPI) unions took mass leave.
While the KAS was on the road map of the previous Oommen Chandy government, not much headway could be made as the CPI - M - led secretariat staff was opposing it tooth and nail.
But with KAS included in the poll manifesto of the Pinarayi Vijayan - led Left Democratic Front, soon after he took over as the new Chief Minister, he emphasised that KAS will be set up at any cost.
This saw many staff leaders backtracking from their earlier stand against it.
J. Bency, an office bearer of the Congress - backed Kerala Secretariat Association, told the media on Thursday that the poor turnout shows that while members came to the Secretariat to register their protest, a good section of the Left supporters were also supporting the protest action and hence they took leave and remained at home.
State CPI Secretary Kanam Rajendran said there was no doubt that KAS has to be set up, but right now there are some issues.
"All the issues can be settled through talks and it will be done, " added Rajendran.