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Pay protest at Besu

More than 150 non-teaching employees at Bengal Engineering and Science University (Besu) held a sit-in on Friday and threatened to intensify their agitation if the dispute over their salaries was not resolved soon.

The protesters demanded that the authorities immediately implement a state government order allowing 184 non-teaching employees to opt for the university pay scale, higher than their existing scale.

The university’s board of management discussed the state order on Thursday and decided to refer it back to the higher education department.

“We oppose the university’s decision to refer the order back to the state government. The order clearly states that we can opt for the higher scale,” said Anil Majhi, a leader of the Citu-affiliated union and member of the university’s court.

“We will continue with our agitation till our demand is met,” he added.

Besu registrar Biman Bandyopadhyay, however, said the board had accepted the order but referred it back to the government because of “certain technical problems”.

“We have conveyed the situation to higher education minister Sudarshan Ray Chaudhury. The issue will be resolved soon,” Bandyopadhyay said.

Sources said senior officials of the state higher education department had asked the university authorities to take immediate steps to ensure the employees’ agitation did not spin out of control.

The nearly 450 non-teaching employees of Besu are paid according to two scales. The 184 who are taking part in the protest are state employees and the rest are university employees. The state employees earn less than the university employees.

The 184 employees threatened that if necessary, they would intensify their agitation next week. “But we will ensure that academic activities are not disrupted by our agitation,” said a union leader.

The campus was shut down indefinitely last Thursday following student clashes. Classes for first and second year students will begin next week.

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