The Tamil Nadu government Tuesday informed the Madras High Court that the state was not ready to hold talks with the protesting government employees or striking teachers. There were cases pending before the court challenging the strike and the government cannot hold talks with the protesters, advocate-general Vijay Narayan said.
Narayan made the submission before Justice N Kirubakaran who asked the Joint Action Committee of Teachers Organisations Government Employees Organisations (JACTO-GEO) to inform the court if the protesting teachers were willing to withdraw the strike and resume work at least till the exams are over. Read latest news in Tamil
Advocate NGR Prasad representing the unions submitted that they were ready to withdraw the strike immediately if the government was ready to hold talks with them. He wanted the court to pass a direction to that effect.
To this, Narayan submitted that the government had already held talks with the unions thrice and about 85 per cent of the teachers had returned to work.
“On Monday 24.7% of teachers did not report to work. Today it has come down to 9.89 per cent. We are marching close to normalcy,” he said.
Narayan submitted the government has received three lakh applications for temporary teaching posts in government schools.
Recording the submissions, Justice Kirubakaran observed that the court was interfering in the issue only in the interest of students and coming exams.
Asking the government and the teachers to arrive at an amicable solution at the earliest considering the plight of the students, the court said though the teachers’ demands look fair, other government employees joining the strike gives an impression that they were trying to blackmail the state.
On January 23, a division bench directed the protesting teachers alone to report to work by January 25 considering the future of students.
However, the teachers refused to budge.
As they continued the protest, a class 12 student of a government school in Chennai moved the court seeking initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the teachers.
Declining any such action, the bench said it cannot initiate contempt proceedings against them as the strike notice has not been stayed or declared illegal by the court.
The bench also observed that it was up to the government to take action against the teachers who failed to obey court direction.
Earlier, Justice N Kirubakaran, hearing a petition from a teacher challenging his suspension for taking part in the strike, had posed several questions to the counsel for associations spearheading the stir.
The court had asked whether the striking teachers can return to work by Tuesday considering the plight of students who are set to face examinations soon.
The JACTO-GEO has been on indefinite protest since January 22 pressing its nine-point charter of demands, including reverting to the old pension scheme and seeking salary arrears.