Thousands of government school teachers accompanied by pensioners held a massive protest against the Punjab government on Sunday, rejecting the 6th Pay Commission report. Under the banner of Sanjha Adhyapak Morcha and Punjab-UT Employees and Pensioners Sanjha Front, the protestors claimed that the 6th Pay Commission recommendations would enable reduction in their salaries and allowances.
“There was a grade pay included in the previous 5th Pay Commission. But as per the suggestions of 6th Pay Commission, the grade pay and increments will be revoked. As a result, our salaries will get reduced. The purpose of the pay commission is to increase our salaries,” said a Sanjha Adhyapak Morcha leader.
The protests in Punjab are unlikely to wane anytime soon. The teachers are upset with Congress Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh-led government. The protestors said they feel betrayed as temporary teachers have not yet been regularised, as promised by the Congress government.
“During the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party era, Singh said Rs 6,000/month is paid to his gardener and that whenever he gets power, he will ensure that our salary is increased. But during his tenure, our salary has decreased significantly,” another protestor said.
The protest was held outside the residences of cabinet ministers and senior Congress leaders, including Bharat Bushan Ashu, Vijay Inder Singla, Rana KP Singh, Balbir Singh Sidhu, OP Soni, Sunil Jakhar, among others.
The protesting teachers raised a flurry of demands including: regularisation of contractual employees, increment of employees as per the earlier pay commission, restoration of old pension scheme, release of DA instalments and arrears.
The gratuity amount has been restricted. Those who have retired on June 30, 2021 will only get Rs 10 lakh even while the gratuity amounts to Rs 15 lakh. Also, the gratuity will be given in seven instalments. Hence, if someone dies, s/he won’t get the entire amount. Dearness allowance of 152 months is pending, which equals to nearly Rs 2-3 lakh. The recommendation to increase medical allowance from Rs 500 to 1,000 has not been considered,” said Amarjeet Shastri, Convenor, Democratic Pensioners Front, Punjab.
The protestors claimed the 6th Pay Commission was harming their finances at a time when the market was in a bad state. “Shouldn't the government be putting more money into our budget? The government, instead, has burdened us,” Shastri said.
The protesting teachers also lamented the distance between their location of work and home. They claimed they had raised this issue in the past with the cabinet sub-committee in March 2019, seeking transfer of employees near their homes.
The protestors have announced another massive rally on July 29 in Patiala, which will be joined by thousands of teachers by taking mass leave from their departments.