This Diwali, the protesting Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhmik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) teachers have chosen to put posters, marking “kali (black) Diwali” — asking “Congressmen not to visit them seeking votes” — outside their houses across the state, instead of decorating them.
They have been protesting since October 3 against the Punjab government’s policy of regularising them, which will bring down their salary by at least Rs 30,000 per month.
“Ih adhyapak da ghar, koi bhi Congressee da iss ghar vich vote mangan auna sakhat mana hai (this is the house of a teacher and Congressmen are not allowed to visit seeking votes),” read a poster on the eve of Diwali.
They said that this Congress government had cheated them and that they will not vote for them in any of the coming elections if their demands are not met.
They asked how can they celebrate Diwali as their salaries are pending since June.
“We have no money to celebrate Diwali as our salaries are pending for the past five months. The department has been decreasing our salaries and cancelling our leaves. Due to our ongoing statewide protest for the past one month, the Punjab education department has withdrawn the 2017 ‘leave policy’ and ordered that the old ‘policy’ pertaining to the year 2014 will be applicable, which has decreased our leaves,” president of SSA/RMSA union Harjeet Singh Todarpur said.
They have been working on an annual contract basis for Rs 42,800 salary per month, but after getting regularised, they will get only the basic salary of
Rs 15,300 for the first three years, which is a probation period, and after that they will get all other benefits.
Tilak Raj, a teacher, said that even on Wednesday, they will hold black flags and march towards the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Jalandhar, though it is a holiday.