Over forty thousand university and college teachers from the eight universities of Maharashtra have taken the path of struggle to force the government to concede their just and long standing demands. The Maharashtra government has been trying to whip up anti-teacher sentiment by making out that the teachers are callous to the concerns of the students. It has been threatening to use MESMA against the agitating teachers.
In these conditions, Kaamgaar Ekta Committee, Lok Raj Sangathan and a number of workers organizations have issued a joint statement expressing support for the agitating teachers. They have begun distributing this statement in the colleges as well as amongst the general public at large.
On March 25thabout 40 activists of these organisations gathered at Churchgate station (Mumbai) and held a demonstration, at which they also distributed leaflets. Prof.TapatiMukhopadhya, General Secretary of Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organizations(MFUCTO), Prof MadhuParanjape, General Secretary of Bombay University and College Teachers’ Union(BUCTU), Dr.Sanjeewani, Vice President of Lok Raj Sangathan and Com Mathew, leader of Kamgar Ekta Committee addressed the gathering and explained why the teachers were forced to go on agitation and why it was necessary for all working people to support them. They also condemned the Government’s anti-people policies promoting privatization of education and health sectors.
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar hails this initiative of these organizations and considers it as an important step in strengthening the unity of the working class in defence of its rights. It is the practice of the Government to attack this or that section of the working people, and discredit that section in the eyes of other working people. The initiative of these organizations will give great strength to the agitating teachers.
An appeal to all teachers
Brothers and Sisters,
The University and College Teachers all over Maharashtra, under the leadership of the Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers Organizations (MFUCTO) have been boycotting examination related work for more than a month now. Theyhad informed the government well in advance about their grievances, but it refused to address these grievances, forcing them to take to this step.
What are the teachers agitating for?
1. Immediate payment of the arrears of the 6th Pay Commission.
The Government does not implement the recommendations of its own Pay Commissions (which are applicable to teachers too), without a struggle by the teachers. It is only when all other modes of struggle fail that the teachers are forced to resort to a strike, which adversely affects the students. That is why, they have had to strike practically every ten years: in 1987, 1996 and in 2010.To make matters worse, the government fails to implement the agreement that it makes with the Union, the condition for calling off the strike! That is what has happened in the present case. The government has not paid the arrears of the 6th Pay Commission.
2. There must be immediate recruitment for vacant posts.
The government is not filling up all the posts of teachers as and when they fall vacant due to retirement and other causes. Only 3% of the posts are given NOCs. As a result, the burden of the vacant post either falls on the other teachers, or teachers are appointed on contract basis to do the work. This has an adverse effect on the students as well. Due to the temporary nature of their appointments, contract teachers are always anxious and on the lookout for better opportunities. That is why they are unable to focus fully on the job as the permanent teachers can.
3. Adequate pay for contract teachers in unaided institutes.
The government’s policy of privatisation and commercialization of education has badly affected the students as well as teachers. On the one hand, in the unaided institutes, the fees are beyond the reach of most students. On the other hand, the teachers are on contract and exceedingly badly paid, which affects the quality of teaching.
4. The injustice to NET/SET affected teachers must be redressed.
The NET / SET exams were made a necessary qualification for university and college teachers in April 2000. However the government imposed this qualification with retrospective effect on teachers who had been appointed from Sept 1991 to April 2000. This is blatantly unjust, since the rules of recruitment cannot be altered after the appointment has already been made. Many of the teachers who have not cleared the NET /SET exam are suffering due to this, in terms of pay and career advancement opportunities. Even the UGC, the apex body for higher education in India has regularized the services of the teachers from the date of appointment; however the Maharashtra Government refuses to endorse this.
These demands are entirely just and need the support of all working people.
An Attack on One is an Attack on All!
The authorities are threatening the teachers with dire consequences if they continue their agitation. It is using the media to incite the rest of us working people against the teachers. This is the same tactic that we see whenever anyone section of us goes on struggle, whether it be Doctors in Government Hospitals, Motormen of Railways, Airline Pilots and staff, BEST Drivers and Conductors, etc. It is only when all other avenues are exhausted that any section of the working people is forced to go on strike. It is the authorities’ callous attitude towards the needs of the working people, both those working in these essential services as well as towards the needs of the public at large that is the root cause of the problem. Under the policies of privatization and liberalization that are being followed since 1991, there is a massive and ongoing cutback in expenditure in essential services by the Government. They would like to privatize health, education, public transport, supply of essential services like water and electricity etc, and hand over these services to the capitalist companies to be operated with the motive of making profit out of these essential services. We working people have the duty to oppose these anti people policies being promoted.
Airports Authority of India Employees Union, Air India Service Engineers Association, All India Loco Running Staff Association, All India Guards Council, BEST Workers’ Union, BSNL Employees’ Union, Bombay University and College Teachers Union, Kamgar Ekta Committee, Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha, Ladaku Garment MazdoorSangh, Lok Raj Sangathan, Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers Organisation, Mumbai Municipal Mazdoor Union, Mumbai Municipal Engineers’ Association, National Federation of Postal Employees, National Railway Mazdoor Union, PurogamiMahila Sangathan, Western Railway Motormen’s Association, Voltas Employees’ Union.