An indefinite strike by the teachers has affected the day-to-day operations in over 50,000 government schools in Odisha. The teachers have been protesting the abolition of the contractual appointment system and the restoration of the old pension scheme for more than a week. The strike involves 1.30 lakh teachers. Despite the government’s appeal, the teachers have refused to end their protest. They started the strike on September 8.
What the protesting teachers are demanding
The protesting teachers are demanding the abolition of the contractual appointment system.
They are also demanding a raise in grade pay.
Additionally, they are calling for the restoration of the old pension scheme.
One of the teachers on strike told news agency PTI, “Since the government failed to address the demands of aggrieved teachers, they went on mass leave and staged protests before the offices of block education officers (BEOs).”
What the Odisha government has done
According to Odisha TV, the state government has set up a sub-committee of five members to review the demands of the protesting teachers. The committee will submit its report to the inter-ministerial panel, and then the government will make the final decision regarding the demands of the teachers.
A protesting teacher said that instead of addressing their demands, the government had constituted a sub-committee. He questioned the necessity of the sub-committee when an inter-ministerial panel had already been formed. He also alleged that the sub-committee was created “only to delay the process”.
Opposition parties slam Odisha government over teachers’ strike
The BJP and Congress have both criticised the Odisha government over the issue. BJP spokesperson Anil Biswal said the state government had failed to address the grievances of protesting teachers. He slammed the state government for spending Rs 500 crore on the chopper ride of a secretary while being unable to provide proper salaries to teachers.
State Congress president Sarat Pattanayaks said, “Education system in Odisha is facing an ’emergency’ like situation, and the government is not taking appropriate measures to resolve their issues.”
Ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA Arabinda Dhali asserted that the state government would certainly look into the genuine demands of the protesting teachers.
Block Education Officers directed to submit daily report of each teacher
All Block Education Officers (BEOs) have been directed by the Directorate of Elementary Education of the Odisha government to submit a daily report of each teacher, according to Kalinga TV.
The Director of Elementary Education, Brundaban Satapathy, instructed the BEOs to keep records of teachers who are absent from school due to the strike and those who have attended and performed their duties, particularly the contractual teachers.