| Block grant teachers stage a rally near the Assembly. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee |
Bhubaneswar, Jan. 21: Around 400 agitating teachers were arrested today after they tried to break through the police cordon in front of the Secretariat gates.
About 5,000 teachers from the 488 categories aided colleges had hit the streets today demanding “equal pay for equal work”.
Members of the association have been on strike for the past 47 days. The teachers said that although they were in the job for past 15 to 20 years, yet the “discriminatory block grant policy” framed by the government in 2009 had forced them to continue with the pay of Rs 11,139.
“The same amount continues to be given to lecturers from 2009 till date without increments and other benefits,” said Subudhi Pradhan a teacher.
The 488 category block grant teachers are at present posted in 500 junior colleges and 284 degree colleges.
“The irony remains that in the same college we have lecturers who are being paid according to the UGC scale and the state scale between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh respectively,” said Prashant Moharana, another teacher.
They said that they were not entitled to any service conditions on par with a regular state government staff. While the block grant can be withheld by the government at any time, facilities such as DA, increment, GPF, promotion, pension and transfer were not given. Ruing a “step-motherly attitude” by the government, the teachers carried placards and shouting slogans broke the cordon resulting in their arrests.
The teachers threatened to resort to fast unto death and boycott the ensuing Plus Two and Plus Three annual examination and evaluation of answer sheets if their demands were not fulfilled. “Despite assurances from the minister of higher education, no concrete steps have been taken. We have lost confident in the government and become impatient. This jail bharo andolan is a warning to the government,” said secretary of the association Atal Bihari Bal.