Putting the future of several thousand students in question, non-teaching employees at various constituent and affiliated colleges under all the five universities of Jharkhand went on an indefinite strike from Tuesday, just three days before the intermediate examinations are scheduled to begin.
Around 6,500 employees are taking part in the agitation across the state to push for their charter of demands, which includes immediate implementation of Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. In Ranchi, roughly 1,500 varsity employees have ceased work.
The protesters, however, claimed that they were against violence and disruption of classes. At Ranchi College and Marwari College in the state capital, classes were held on Tuesday though office work did not progress.
“We are not stopping the teaching staff from taking classes. Students too can attend classes as and when they wish too,” said Pawan Jedia, general secretary of Jharkhand Visvavidyalaya and Mahavidyalaya Karmachari Mahasangh, an apex body of non-teaching university employees.
Jedia claimed that keeping the intermediate exams in mind, they have also decided to facilitate students in a proper way. “Anything related to students and exam will be entertained because we have nothing against them. But, day-to-day work will not be done in colleges,” he said.
Reasons behind the protest are not new ones. Demands include increase of retirement age to 62, hike in gratuity and other allowances.
Members of the Mahasangh rued that they had been neglected since 2007. This, despite the HRD department giving them in writing that their demands would be looked into soon. “All we get are empty promises,” Jedia said.
A delegation had met governor Syed Ahmed and principal secretary (HRD) D.K. Tiwary on Monday. “None of them were aware of our problems and demands. They aren’t at fault. Their juniors, who do not communicate information, are the culprits. Our protest is also against such officials,” said Pankaj Singh, another member of the association.
When contacted, Tiwary said the department would try to address the grievances and demands in two-three weeks.
“This evening, we have scheduled a meeting with all the varsity vice chancellors and the governor’s adviser.
A solution will be thrashed out. In the meantime, we appeal to protesters not to create problems for students,” he added.