As many as 50 teachers from various special and remedial schools across the city staged a dharna outside the office of state Social Welfare and Justice Department at Chembur on Monday in protest against the non-payment of their salaries for the past 11 months. Four teachers have gone on an indefinite hunger strike.
These protesters represented 99 teachers employed in 27 special schools,which includes schools for blind and physically and mentally challenged students. Officials,however,claim the teachers had not submitted the required documents during appointment.
We were appointed in 2004,suddenly in 2009 the Social Welfare Department informed us that all appointments required a no-objection certificate from the Disability Commissioner,Pune. As none of us had submitted the NOC,our appointments were declared invalid. We were not aware of this criterion when we were appointed; the Social Welfare Department should have cancelled our appointment immediately. They have woken up only after we completed five years service, says Rajendra Kamble,a teacher at Victoria Memorial School for the Blind in Tardeo.
Around 34 teachers have now managed to get the NOC from the disability commissioners office,but they allege that the department had recorded their date of appointment only from the date they submitted the NOC. We had pointed out that it was not our fault,the department should pay us the arrears as per the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. Their records show that we were just appointed; five years of our service have been considered null and void. We have been running from pillar to post requesting authorities to resolve our issue but no one helped us. We are left with no other option but to protest, says Dinesh Patil of Anza Special School,Byculla.
The teachers have also approached the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) United Forum. We have also been fighting for this issue for over a year now. We had even written to the Social Welfare Minister to intervene in the matter and help these teachers. The problem happened due to negligence of the Social Welfare Department; why should these teachers suffer. If this problem is not resolved at the earliest,teachers from across the state will join the protest, says Arundhati Chavan,president,PTA United Forum.
An official from the Social Welfare and Justice Department said,We understand their plight but we have to follow rules stipulated by the state government. Still,we are looking forward to help them; we will surely come up with a solution soon.