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Maharashtra government brings on a teachers’ strike

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Almost three years ago an extended strike by college teachers in Maharahstra demanding the salary structure due to them is being reprised because the government has apparently failed to meet several of the commitments made then.

DNA has a detailed report on the reasons and extent of the strike:

With the college teachers boycotting assessment of answer papers, results of the graduation examinations all over the state are likely to be delayed.

Maharashtra Federation of Universities and College Teachers Organisation (MFUCTO) called the boycott from April 1. The teachers have demanded regularisation of non National Eligibility Test (NET) and State Eligibility Tests (SET) qualified teachers appointed between 1991 and 1998 in the state.

Over 24,000 teachers from nine universities, namely Shivaji University (SU, Kolhapur), University of Mumbai, University of Pune, Solapur University, Nagpur University, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Sant Gadgebaba Amravati University, Swami Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University (Nanded) and Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University have heeded to MFUCTO’s call.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) in 1991 released regulation making the NET and SET mandatory for the college and university teachers. However, the state government released the statute only in 1998. In this period, as many as 10,000 teachers not clearing NET or SET were appointed in the different colleges.

These teachers have been given ‘ad hoc’ status denying promotion benefits.

In August 2009, MFUCTO boycotted colleges for 6th pay scale and regularisation of ‘ad hoc’ teachers from the date of their appointment. The government later accepted 6th pay scale for teachers and assured accepting UGC’s directions in case of ad hoc teachers.

“We approached human resource development minister Kapil Sibal who on August 16 and August 26, 2010 ordered regularising the ad hoc teachers. However, on December 2, 2011 the education department officers approached the UGC seeking revision of the order instead of accepting Sibal’s orders. Therefore we have launched the agitation,” Sudhakar Mankar, co-ordinator of SU Teachers’ Association, the branch of MFUCTO under SU, told DNA.

The Maharashtra government’s lack of interest in higher education is apparent from the fact that it took them 7 years to operationalize a recommendation by the UGC. The teachers appointed due to the government’s oversight are being penalized 20 years on, and more than halfway through their careers. This again speaks of complete disregard for education as a profession.

HT added:

Around 2,000 teachers across the city are boycotting paper corrections for the final year undergraduate exam papers, raising the possibility of delayed exam results. Members of the Bombay University and College Teachers’ Union (Buctu) will boycott paper corrections following the
government’s refusal to look into their demands. Their demands include that teachers be paid their Sixth Pay Commission scale salary arrears and regularisation of the appointments and promotions of thousands of teachers exempt from NET/SET rules, which came into effect from 2000.

“Our strike will remain on until the government gives in to our demands,” said Tapati Mukhopadhyay, general secretary, Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisations (MFUCTO), that is coordinating the state-wide strike. Nine other universities across the state are also part of the strike. MFUCTO will be holding a day-long protest at the university on April 16 and has called for a Jail Bharo Andolan on that day. The striking teachers have alleged, that as a result of their strike, unqualified teachers are being recruited for corrections.

TOI reports that the strike is working:

Madhu Paranjpe, Bombay University and Colleges’ Teachers Union (BUCTU) general secretary, said, “No one is reporting for assessment work, apart from a handful of temporary teachers all are supporting the boycott. Even college principals are supporting us.” There are close to 6 lakh answer booklets waiting to be corrected by close to 1,100 commerce teachers. Since the CAP began on March 26, only two or three ad hoc faculty members are reporting for assessment.

S M Suryawanshi, in-charge controller of examination, said, “To date, teachers’ attendance each day has been around 0.1-0 .5%. Those present are either temporary faculty or contract teachers who are not affiliated to any union. The few permanent ones who come for assessment , spend an hour or two at the centres. It will be very difficult to declare results if they do not co-operate . The university has no role to play in their demands,” he added.

Minister for higher and technical education Rajesh Tope said, “We have received a clarification from the UGC and will forward it to the finance department. The issue will be later taken up by the cabinet.” Regularising teachers and paying them arrears will cost the state about Rs 400 crore.

It seems that the teachers are especially incensed because after every strike they have to work overtime to make up for teaching or examination time lost, only to find that the government goes back on commitments given to end the strike.

If there were any doubt about the Maharashtra government’s lack of concern for education, it would be dispelled by the report by IE on a simultaneous strike by school teachers:

Over 500 teachers owing allegiance to Maharashtra Rajya Shikshak Parishad (MRSP) will stage a dharna at Azad Maidan on April 18 demanding non-salary grants to aided schools, permanent posts and better wages to shikshan sevaks, teachers of night schools and schools for disabled be treated on par with the regular school teachers.

Members of the parishad, led by Ramnath Mote, Bhagwanrao Salunkhe and Nago Gaanar — the MLC’s from teachers’ constituency — will hold a day-long protest at Azad Maidan urging the government to resolve problems faced by school teachers.

The schools claim that they have to face lots of problems in the absence of non-salary grants. The government schools have not been paid non-salary grants by the state government since 2008. The grants only finance expenses such as electricity bills, water charges, property taxes and other establishment expenses.

Elsewhere IE reported that the school teachers are adopting the same tactics as the college teachers:

Even as the boycott of assessment duty by over 21,000 teachers of unaided junior colleges across the state continues, the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher and Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) authorities on Friday said there will be no delay in declaring the results.

The state Permanently Unaided High School Teachers’ Action Committee, seeking 100 per cent aided status for their institutes, have been boycotting the HSC and SSC exam paper assessment.

“These teachers had returned bundles of answers papers given for correction. Till now, more than 45 bundles of answer-sheets have already been returned to the respective divisional board offices,” an MSBSHSE official said. Over seven lakh students go to 8,644 un-aided colleges across Maharashtra. Teachers from these colleges constitute 20 per cent of the total assessors out of which over 21,000 represent the action committee.

While one is in complete agreement with the philosophy of the right to education act, the actions of the government indicate that the state will probably use it to loosen further its already tenuous ties to education.

April 27, 2012

The minister of education does not seem to have the time to resolve what the newspapers call a crisis. He met the union after 27 days of the strike, and 11 days after the morcha. This reprises the delays which marked the resolution of the strike in 2009; which was prolonged because the same man in the same post was busy in his constituency and could not meet the teachers’ union for weeks. TOI reports that the meeting was fruitless:

Over 250 teachers protested at Azad Maidan over non-receipt of their Sixth Pay Commission arrears. The protest was called overnight after talks with the government failed yet again.

C R Sadasivan, Bombay University and College Teachers’ Union (BUCTO) president, said, “Even after a nine-hour meeting with Rajesh Tope, the minister of higher and technical education , and after discussing our demands in detail, education secretary Sanjay Kumar refused to sign the official document. I understand that the students are getting affected for no fault of their own but the fault lies with the government,” he added.

Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers Organization (MFUCTO) general secretary Tapati Mukhopadhyay said, “On April 25, they told us it would be resolved in half an hour; the next day it get postponed to Saturday.”

Interestingly, the pay commission arrears have been given to other categories of state government employees already.

April 30, 2012

TOI reported two days ago:

The protest continues even after an eight-hour meeting between higher and technical education (H&TE) minister Rajesh Tope and the Maharashtra federation of universities and college teachers’ organisation (MFUCTO), the apex body of the teachers, ended inconclusively on April 25.

This, despite a “broad consensus” worked out at the meeting, on key issues like regularisation of services of nearly 10,000 non-NET/SET qualified teachers, who were appointed between September 19, 1991 and April 3, 2000 at various universities and colleges, and the payment of the 6th Pay Commission arrears.

A blame-game has started as the MFUCTO members have criticised H&TE secretary Sanjay Kumar for “delaying” a solution by withholding his signature on the minutes of their meeting with Tope.

“The government is not serious about the issue despite the prospects of the university results getting delayed by two to three months and a further delay in the 2012-13 academic year activity,” MFUCTO general secretary Tapti Mukhopadhyay told TOI on Saturday.

Kumar said a proposal relating to the teachers’ demands has been moved to the state finance department. “It’s an inter-departmental matter which can be resolved through coordination between the two concerned departments,” he added.

“In the meantime, we have requested teachers not to boycott till these issues are resolved. The H&TE department will act as soon as its proposal is cleared by the finance department,” he said.

Is Sanjay Kumar’s statement an admission by the Higher and Technical Education (H&TE) department that the request for pay commission arrears had not been sent for finance approval for two and a half years? A snail’s pace would have taken a file between the two departments faster.

May 3, 2012

Financial Express reports:

The representatives of the unions had a meeting with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Higher and Technical Education Minister Rajesh Tope.

“MFUCTO cannot withdraw its boycott as the government is not sending officially signed documents which reflect the actual points on which we had agreed. They had agreed that arrears (of the Sixth Pay Commission) would be paid to the teachers within a month. They had also agreed that a government resolution will be issued in two months to regularise appointment of teachers affected by National Eligibility Test (NET) or State Level Eligibility Test (SET). The government has not given us any concrete date for payment of the arrears or resolution of the NET/SET issue. We have sent a note to the state, which conveys our reaction and our decision to not end the stir,” said a MFUCTO representative.

Hema More of Pune University Teachers’ Association said, “Our representatives met the CM and the education minister. We were to get the minutes of the meeting after the discussion. But we got an unsigned document and we cannot accept that as an official confirmation of our demands by the government.”

May 17, 2012

TOI reports:

As college and university teachers intensified their agitation on Wednesday, the state government swung into action and drew up a detailed plan on when their demands would be met. The state also promised to bring up the matter before the cabinet within a week. Yet, the final call on whether the strike would be called off will be taken on Friday afternoon.

Early on Wednesday, the Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organization (MFUCTO) received a letter from the state government accepting all their demands with a timeframe in place on when they will be paid the cash component (arrears of the Sixth Pay Commission).

The arrears of the VIth Pay Commission-a total of Rs 431 crore-will be released in a phased manner: The first instalment will be paid in June and the second in April 2013, stated the letter. The state will also bring up the issue of regularizing teachers affected by the National Eligibility Test (NET) or the State Eligibility Test (SET) in the cabinet within a week. The teachers’ strike began in the first week of April, which in turn has affected the evaluation work of exam answer books at most state universities.

The University of Mumbai may take pride in the fact that it has managed to speed up evaluation, but faculty members are worried about the quality of correction work. In a letter to the governor, the head of statistics department has demanded that the process be started all over again once the strike is called off. Ulhas Dixit, statistics HoD, said correction work was possible only because the eligibility of assessors was “manipulated”. Asking the chancellor of universities K Sankaranarayanan to intervene, Dixit said, papers of TYBSc (Computer Science) and TYBCom, among others, have been assessed by teachers who have only one year’s experience. “According to Mumbai University’s rule, a teacher should have more than three years of experience to be an examiner. This rule was highly diluted,” the letter said. Dixit said that several teachers met the vice-chancellor over this issue.

This is now documentary evidence that the Maharashtra government delayed the payment of arrears to teachers, when most other departments had made the payments already. This no longer surprises us; nor does the dilution of exam standards. One expects that this strike will soon be over.

May 18, 2012

Asian Age reports that the strike is over:

The Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers Organisation (MFUCTO) on Friday withdrew their agitation and called-off their indefinite strike after the government assured that their demands would be fulfilled by June.

Earlier in the day, the Bombay high court had directed the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit by May 25 on what steps had been taken against the teachers of different universities who had resorted to striking indefinitely.

MFUCTO general secretary Tapati Mukhopadhyay, while replying to the court, said that the strike was their last resort since the government did not heed their demands for a long time.


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

April 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm

2 Responses

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  1. It is a ‘carefree ‘world! Other than the teachers union nobody seems to care for the teachers!Nobody bothered about the impending delay in declaration of results or the causes and rationale for the boycott!. Education minister does not care! Chancellor does not care!Vice chancellors’ don’t care !Parents don’t care! Students don’t care atall!! So why should we the teachers unduly care for any of these categoies! None of the above deserve our sincerity or sympathy! Go for vacation from tomro! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

    Meenakshi Venkatesh

    April 29, 2012 at 11:10 am

  2. […] is something that we know very well. An example, but not the only one, is the inability of the Maharashtra government to sort out the mess it created for over a decade. Now it turns out that the central government is […]

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