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Pen-down for pay hike
Teaching and non-teaching employees of the Siliguri Institute of Technology at a sit-in on the institution campus in Siliguri on Tuesday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo

Siliguri, Sept. 21: Around 2,000 students of the Siliguri Institute of Technology have been affected since yesterday by a pen-down strike of the teaching and non-teaching staff of the institution who have been demanding that the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations be implemented.

“According to a University Grants Commission directive, the All India Council for Technical Education has issued a circular to all engineering colleges approved by it, including ours, to implement the Sixth Pay Commission for its staff. But our management is yet to implement it despite repeated appeals from us. So, the 187 teaching and non-teaching staff of the institution have resorted to the pen-down strike which will continue until our demands are met,” said Ankur Ganguly, the secretary of the college unit of the West Bengal University of Technology Affiliated College Teachers’ Association.

The institution at Salbari, around 7km from here, is one of the two private engineering colleges in Siliguri and is managed by the Calcutta-based Techno India Group (TIG). It offers courses in engineering, management, computer applications and hotel management and catering.

The academic activities were halted at the college for the second day today, even though relaxation was allowed for the finishing school programme (pre-placement activities that include grooming students for interviews and submission of relevant documents) of the final year students and emergency official work. Teachers and non-teaching employees had assembled at the institution wearing black badges, protesting the alleged inaction by the management.

“We will not take classes until the management concedes to our demand. We have assured the students that we will complete the syllabus by taking extra classes during holidays. All the non-teaching employees are with us and the office has been allowed to operate for only emergency services. We have formally intimated the TIG authorities through our principal and the onus is now on the management,” said Dipak Bhattacharjee, the president of the association at the college.

Ganguly said of the 212 colleges affiliated to the West Bengal University of Technology, the movement for new pay had begun in around 15 institutions. “We have started the strike following a call given by our central committee. Authorities of other institutes like the Kolaghat Engineering College have already implemented the revision. But we are still being paid according to the last pay commission recommendations which is Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 less for a Group D employee and Rs 20,000 to 30,000 less for a professor or lecturer compared to the sixth pay panel recommendations,” he added.

Students are, however, apprehensive that they may not be able to finish their syllabus in time for their December semester exams if the stalemate continues.

“There are holidays scheduled for pujas and Diwali next month and we are supposed to complete a considerable portion of our syllabus this month to be prepared for the semester. We will be the sufferers if this stalemate continues for long,” said a second-year student of BCA.

A final-year engineering student also spoke on similar lines. She said projects to be prepared with the guidance of the faculty members had to be stopped because of the strike.

College principal Gautam Das said he had intimated the TIG management in Calcutta about the strike. “The authorities have agreed to the demands. But the teachers insist on immediate steps to withdraw the strike,” Das said.

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