Patna: Bihar’s Legislative Assembly witnessed protests on Wednesday over the ongoing strike by close to 4.5 lakh contractual school teachers across the state. Opposition MLAs disrupted proceedings and told the Government to fulfill the teachers’ demands of ‘equal pay for equal work’ and withdraw the dismissal of teachers who are on strike.
Opposition leaders from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Indian National Congress (INC) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI (ML)) staged protests inside the Assembly as well as outside. They had placards in their hands and raised slogans.
Soon after the Assembly session began, opposition members demanded a discussion on the issue and alleged that the government has been deliberately harsh on them and that they were harassing them. Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary tried to pacify the members but failed. While opposition members demanded an adjournment motion to discuss the striking teachers, Choudhary disallowed it and adjourned the House twice.
RJD MLAs Lalit Yadav and Bhai Virendar, INC MLA Avadesh Singh, CPI (ML) MLA Mahbub Alam and others raised the issue of striking during the ongoing Budget session of Bihar’s Assembly, asking the government for a reply.
On February 17, contractual teachers of government-run schools across the state began an indefinite strike for their eight-point demands which include ‘equal pay for equal work’ and of reverting to the old pension scheme. The teachers are adamant that they will not end the strike until their demands are fulfilled.
According to reports, more than two dozen striking teachers were dismissed from service and FIRs were lodged against hundreds of striking teachers.
The strike has badly affected teaching in schools and has reportedly hampered the ongoing Class 10th examination being conducted by the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB). There has been no move for a dialogue with them so far.
In a bid to put pressure on striking teachers, the education department on Wednesday did not issue salaries for January and February to the striking teachers. In his order, Sanjay Singh, a top official of the department, asked all district education officers to pay salaries to teachers who had not joined the strike.
The call for a strike was given by the Bihar Rajya Shikshak Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, a joint platform of 26 school-teacher associations.
Meanwhile, the state education department has been adamant and warned teachers of pay cuts aside from announcing “alternate measures”. Bihar State Education Board chairman Anand Kishor said the board has roped in teachers from government-aided schools and other staff at district level as invigilators for the Class 10th examination.
According to officials, the board requires at least 65,000 teachers as invigilators in an examination which will be taken by more than 15 lakh students. The state has 36,000 regular permanent school-teachers.
Bhola Paswan, co-convenor of the Samiti, told NewsClick that teachers were not just unhappy but also angry with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for “deliberately ignoring” their demands of a salary at par with permanent teachers in various state government schools.
“We have been raising our demands – equal pay for equal work – for several years but the government has been using different measures to suppress our voices,” said Premchand, another Samiti leader.