| Employees of 662 block grant colleges stage a protest outside the Assembly in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Ashwinee Pati |
Bhubaneswar, Nov. 21: A strike by teaching and non-teaching staff of 662 unaided colleges of the state over the past three days has adversely affected students.
“We have our pre-board exams next month and if the strike is not called off soon, we will face a lot of problems. Besides, the last date for filling up Plus Two board exam forms is December 24,” said Bikash Swain, a Plus Two student at Maa Tarini Mahavidyalaya, Panikoeli, in Jajpur district.
“We have seen our teachers suffer because of government neglect and we sympathise with them. We hope the government authorities accept their demands so that we don’t face further problems,” said another student.
Lecturers and employees of these 662 colleges, under the banner of All-Odisha Non-Government Lecturers and Employees’ Association, have been protesting outside the Assembly since Monday, demanding 100 per cent grant-in-aid along with certain service conditions.
They said while lecturers were paid Rs 5,733 a month as salary, non-teaching staff members received Rs 2,690 a month. “The peons of our colleges get a salary of Rs 2,249, which shows the apathy of the government towards us,” said president of the association Golak Nayak.They said they were provided 40 per cent block grant after 20 years of free service and discriminated against their counterparts in the 488 junior colleges in terms of post approval salary structure and service conditions.
“We have been asking the state government to address our longstanding demands. Instead, the government provided grant-in-aid to those who are junior to us,” said Nayak, adding that they would intensify the agitation if the government failed to address their demands.
“We have decided to appoint the same committee that looked into the demands of 488 block grant junior colleges. The process has already started,” said higher education minister Badri Narayan Patra.