By Mushtaq Hurra
It is obligatory and mandatory for every employer to pay salaries and remunerations to its employees in time. Timely salaries motivate them to put in their 100 % energies and efforts to get the desired results. A department, a firm or a company is sure to prosper and progress, if it takes care of the legitimate rights of its employees. On the other hand, a department or a company is certain to fail to achieve the set targets, if it ignores and neglects its work force. Many employers come up with incentives and perks for employees to draw the best out of them .Such employers touch the milestones and reach the zenith of progress. But, If the workforce is not paid in time how can employers expect them to work with zeal and zest?
Something same is happening in our part of the world. Our school education department is grabbing the headlines for starving its 41,000 teachers working under the erstwhile SSA and RMSA. The stalemate between these teachers and the government took ugly turns when these teachers boycotted class work earlier this year and took to roads and streets. From sloganeering to candlelight marches, almost every means of protest was taken recourse to. Even, these teachers were baton charged on the auspicious occasion of Eid al-Adha when the aggrieved teachers had assembled in the heart of the Srinagar city, Lal chowk.
Even, this protest couldn’t melt the ice and these teachers made use of “track two diplomacy” by meeting different officials. But this too proved a futile exercise. Finally, the teachers, under the banner of ‘ Teachers Joint Action Committee ‘ and ‘ Jammu and Kashmir Rehberi-Taleem Teacher Forum ‘ sat on a chain hunger strike at both the capitals of Jammu and Kashmir. It took them almost a month to move the top brass of our state, and finally, on the 26th of the last month , the incumbent governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Satya Paul Mallick called these teachers to his official residence and promised them the fulfillment of their demand viz seventh pay commission benefits. The Governor went on to say that had he been apprised in time about the legitimacy of their genuine demands, I would have resolved it earlier.
The teachers felt a great relief as the denial of seventh pay commission benefits was hitting them badly. They distributed sweets and made celebrations of an extraordinary nature. Trade union leaders were garlanded and lifted on the shoulders. The decision of governor administration was hailed by almost one and all including the intelligentsia of the society because the confrontation between the stakeholders of education was a big loss to our nation. The joy was even vividly visible on the faces of the kith and kin of these teachers. Duties were resumed, and the official promise seemed to have injected a new lease of life into the nerves of these teachers. The academics had picked up pace the teachers were trying hard to compensate the losses by taking zero classes.
The administration had promised to release the salary of September on priority basis as per Seventh Pay commission recommendations. But, the promise has so far proved a hoax. The administration has not come up with an adequate response till now. The delay is sometimes attributed to a formal order from governor administration or to the unavailability of funds. There seems to be a coordination gap between the school education department and the finance department. The clouds of uncertainty are hovering over the salary of these teachers. Though the trade union leaders are making frequent visits to the state project director’s office but they fail to make a proclamation of good news to the aggrieved and disappointed teachers.
Now, the first fortnight of October has culminated but these teachers are yet to see the new dawn of their hopes. This teaching community is still waiting for any positive development. The virtual deadlock persists. The miseries and woes of these teachers have piled up and increased manifold. They are not able to make the both ends to meet. Their families are going through very difficult times. These teachers are not able to purchase the daily goods of essential importance. Their ailing parents are craving for life saving drugs, their children are not in a position to buy the snacks of worth rupees five. The huge burden of debts has broken the backs of these teachers.
But, they are not asking for any favor from the authorities to end their miseries. It is the hard earned money of these teachers which is being withheld by authorities illegally..
This community of teachers is under acute stress and depression. Their social life has been badly by the prolonged delay in their salaries. They are losing the credibility in the society which they used to enjoy earlier. They are looked down as liars and defaulters.
Who is responsible for all the mess? The answer is ‘ the people at the helm of affairs ‘. If the employer is not able to pay the salaries to its employees then it must quit on moral grounds. The workforce working under the erstwhile SSA and RMSA is exceedingly unhappy so the employer has lost the credibility to remain power.
This callousness and insensitivity is sure to hit the professional endeavors of these teachers very badly. A teacher who is without salary for four months, whose ailing parents are dying for essential drugs, whose children are not able to buy a simple candy: How can such teachers deliver justice to their professions? How can they abandon themselves in the classroom? How can they give their best? The onus is on the authorities for all the academic and intellectual losses to our society.
Civil society must break the silence over this sensitive issue .Salary denial to teachers is not a mere monetary denial rather a criminal act which can weaken the foundations of a nation. Intellectuals and writers hold the responsibility to aware the government about the Ill consequences of this non seriousness. It will not only add to the agonies of teachers but will surely leave us as illiterate, ignoramus and clumsy as a nation. And it is a proven fact that illiterate’s fall most often to the clutches of slavery.
I fail to understand the logic behind this official apathy. If these teachers have been reckoned as part of the administration then why are they meted out with step-motherly treatment? These Teachers are in virtual trauma. How can common masses and authorities expect miracles from these teachers? The indifference will surely hit our future very badly.
Examinations have almost started or are about to start in our schools. These teachers have again threatened to hit the roads and streets in case their salaries are not released immediately. Any further confrontation will cost us badly . It can result in a catastrophe. A potential examination boycott will leave students dejected and will demoralize psychologically.
Now, the ball is in the court of the administration. Immediate resolution will show their sincerity and care for the children of these people who are seeking the interpretation of their dreams in the schools where teachers are virtually crying and starving. Let us hope, the administration will end this delaying tactic and will address the genuine demands of Rehberi-Taleem teachers and will release their salaries in a couple of days. Hope, the good sense prevails very soon.
The writer is a teacher and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org