Non-teaching employees shout slogans outside Ranchi University on Monday. (Hardeep Singh)
Administrative work at all five universities of the state remained suspended on Monday as non-teaching employees went on a flash strike to push their long-standing demand of pay upgrade among other things.
Though classes and examinations were spared at Ranchi, Kolhan, Nilambar-Pitamber, Sido Kanhu Murmu and Vinoba Bhave varsities, the disgruntled 7,000 have warned against total disruption of academic activities from March 18. Prior to that, from March 13, a phase-wise dharna will begin in front of Raj Bhavan, declared general secretary of Jharkhand Vishavidyalaya Evam Mahavidyalaya Karamchari Mahasangh Shivaji Tiwari.
Around 60-odd non-teaching employees trooped to Ranchi University main gate around 10am and shouted slogans against varsity administrations and dubbed their demands justified.
The ripple effect was felt at all the other cradles.
Members of Jharkhand State University and College Employees’ Federation will stage another dharna at Kolhan University headquarters in Chaibasa on Tuesday.
Vishambhar Yadav, zonal secretary of the federation, said they would also join demonstrations in front of Raj Bhavan on March 13. “If HRD bosses turn a deaf ear again, we will lock college gates from March 18,” he warned.
Their gripe is born of three basic demands — implementation of fifth and six pay panel recommendations, increasing retirement age to 62 and promotion at least twice a year.
Tiwari claimed that in 2007 and 2010, then governments had given them in writing that the demands would be met. On February 18, following a prod from the governor, the state HRD secretary too had assured Mahasangh members of some solution within a week.
“But, not much has happened since. The main problem is lack of willingness on part of the state. The ball is now in the HRD department’s court,” he said.
If sources in the HRD wing are to be believed, the finance department has already cleared the file for pay upgrade based on the sixth panel’s suggestions. But, varsity officials contend that implementation will be a trick task. “Most of the 7,000 non-teaching employees are yet to receive Fifth Pay Commission benefits. So, implementing the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations will not be that easy,” an RU official said.
A junior employee at the HRD department sort of corroborated him. “Arre yahan kisi ko pata hi nai hota karna kya hai. File ghumte rahta hai sirf. (Here, no one knows what to do. The file just keeps doing rounds),” he said.
HRD secretary D.K. Tiwari is on leave and could not be contacted.
When this correspondent tried to meet higher education director D.N. Ojha at Project Building in the afternoon, he was busy in a meeting that dragged on for hours.
Later, however, Ojha spoke to The Telegraph, but kept it brief and adequately vague. “The HRD department has done its job. The pay revision issue was pending for long and the file was sent to the finance department. Now, the advisory council will decide,” he said.
When told that the finance wing had cleared the proposal in principle, he murmured he wasn’t so sure.
On the other demands, he remained equally non-committal. “Let us see. We are not in a position to say anything. Moreover, it is a policy decision to be taken by the state administration.”
Incidentally, the HRD department is infamous for poor handling of predicaments. Last year, para-teachers went on a strike that went on for two months across the state before the high court intervened.