SRINAGAR: Demanding Seventh Pay Commission benefits and de-linking of salaries of Rehbar-e-Taleem (ReT) teachers, the Teachers Joint Action Committee (TJAC) started an indefinite hunger strike Monday, here in summer capital Srinagar.
TJAC is an amalgam of various teachers’ organisations working under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) schemes.
Hundreds of protesting teachers assembled here in Pratap Park for a peaceful demonstration, holding banners and placards which read, ‘Implement Seventh Pay Commission’ and ‘We want justice’.
Led by TJAC president Qayoom Wani while chanting slogans, the protesting teachers demanded the implementation of the new salary norms and the linking of teachers’ salaries with the state sector.
The protesting teachers accuse the state government of having a “casual” and “step motherly” approach towards teachers who have been deprived of Seventh Pay Commission benefits. They said that due to this “negative” approach of the government, more than 40,000 teachers are living in mental “disturbance”.
They said that the ReT teachers, despite having been recruited under the state ReT scheme, have not had their salaries “linked” with the state budget as the central scheme (SSA) is doing them “no good” and is instead “holding up” salaries for months.
“We are going for an indefinite hunger strike from today and will continue till our demands of immediate implementation of Seventh Pay Commission and linking of our salaries with the state sector are met,” said Qayoom Wani.
Wani said that the teachers “will not call off hunger strike till the benefits are not given to [them], and if our grievances are not taken seriously then we will be forced to intensify our stir. We give a time period of two months to the state administration to link our salaries with the state sector. And for the Seventh Pay Commission, we demand its immediate implementation.”
The SSA scheme of the Government of India (GoI) was merged with the state government’s ReT scheme by regularising the ReT teachers, but over 40,000 of them have been brought to the verge of insolvency by the J&K government’s depriving them of the benefits a permanent employee is entitled to.
In the year 2000, the School Education Department kept a provision of after five years regularising teachers recruited under the ReT scheme as ‘General Line teachers’. An official order was issued to this effect on 28 April 2000 by the then Principal Secretary, School Education Department, J&K.
However, officials at the helm in the School Education Department mingled the state’s own ReT scheme with the GoI’s erstwhile SSA, launched in Jammu and Kashmir in the year 2003-04, under which teachers were supposed to be hired on contractual basis.
Teachers on hunger strike appealed to the governor administration to intervene in the matter and take a favourable step by fulfilling their demands. If such an outcome did not materialise, they threatened to intensify the strike.