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CM skirts salary-date pledge

Calcutta, Jan. 23: Nearly 12,000 teachers of state-aided colleges across West Bengal will have to live with the present uncertainty over receiving monthly salaries on a fixed date, the government has told a prominent teachers’ lobby.

The government’s position, stemming from an acute financial crisis, has been stated by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who told a delegation of college and university teachers that he was unable to announce a fixed date for disbursing salaries.

During a meeting on Tuesday at Writers’ Buildings, Bhattacharjee also informed the CPM-controlled West Bengal College and University Teachers Association (WBCUTA) that he would need the lobby’s cooperation in helping the teachers see the government’s plight in the proper context. The delegation had gone to submit a charter of demands to him.

“The financial position of the government is very critical and it is not possible for me to commit any specific date for paying salaries to the college teachers,” Bhattacharjee said. The government was also not in a position to clear salary arrears due since 1996, he added.

The government had revised teachers’ pay scales in 1996 and has, so far, cleared 75 per cent of the dues. Bhattacharjee urged the delegation not to start any movement protesting against the non-payment of arrears.

Though the teachers of government colleges and universities are getting their salaries on time, their counterparts in the government-sponsored institutes are not. There is no fixed date on which these teachers get their salaries. WBCUTA is demanding that salaries be paid to them on a particular day, but has failed to mount pressure on the government as Bhattacharjee admitted the government’s crisis.

About 400 college teachers, who retired about a year ago, are yet to receive their post-retirement benefits. Most of them are not even getting pension. Bhattacharjee assured the delegation that he would look into the problems of the retired teachers. The chief minister also assured them that he was ready to consider their demand for a pension cell comprising government officials and WBCUTA members.

It is learnt that the government had recently asked the teachers not to withdraw their shares from the provident fund “unless there is any urgency”. Teachers are allowed to withdraw money from their provident fund for treatment of family members and children’s marriage, but not for construction of houses.

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