The impasse between the teachers on strike and the state government is set to continue,with the teachers deciding to continue the agitation in spite of Higher and Technical Education Minister Rajesh Tope sounding a warning that action will be initiated on Friday.
Teachers from across the state agitating under the banner of the Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers Organisation (MFUCTO),said they will continue the boycott of paper assessment duty. The decision was taken at the executive committee meeting of MFUCTO in Jalgaon on Thursday.
MFUCTO has decided to continue its boycott of assessment work, said C R Sadasivan,MFUCTO member and president of the Bombay University and College Teachers Union (BUCTU). The decision comes a day after Tope announced that the state has agreed to major demands of the teachers and expected them to resume work on Friday,failing which action would be initiated against them.
On Thursday,Tope told Newsline,Action will be initiated against them if they do not resume work on Friday. Colleges will be asked to take action against them. On May 3 and in April,talks between the state and MFUCTO representatives failed.
The teachers are demanding Sixth Pay Commission arrears and placement benefits for lecturers (appointed between 1991 and 2000) affected by the National Eligibility Test (NET) or State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) in compliance with directions issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC),among others.
What the minister announced to the media on Wednesday and what was given to us in the signed minutes are different. The minutes do not give any concrete date or time period for payment of arrears or resolution of the NET/SLET issue. On the issue of NET/SLET,the minutes say that the state will go back to the UGC to regularise services of the teachers affected by it. This is a tactic to buy time and delay the process, said Sadasivan.
After a meeting with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday,Tope subsequently told reporters that the government had agreed to regularise and validate services of teachers affected by NET/SLET from the date of their appointment as per UGC guidelines,pay arrears amounting to Rs 431 crore in a phased manner (July 2012 and April 2013) and continue seeking funds from the Ministry of Human Resource Development to pay the difference between fifth and Sixth Pay Commission scales.
The teachers are fighting for their rights and are ready to face any action. We were also prepared for invoking of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) by the state on us. The government is quoting figures on the percentage of assessment work done across various universities. Such figures are meaningless. The universities should have firmly told the state that they dont want the papers to be checked by contractual/retired/junior faculty as even a small difference in percentage can affect the future of a student, said Sadasivan.
Meanwhile,the Bombay High Court on Thursday issued a notice to MFUCTO on a petition against the decision to permit temporary teachers to evaluate answersheets. The plea filed by the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP),claims it will harm the interest of students. The case has been posted for hearing in June.