TN: Promises at JACTO-GEO Conference Unmet, Workers Feel Betrayed by Stalin
MK Stalin speaks at the JACTO-GEO conference. Image courtesy: Bakthavatchalam
Tamil Nadu: A ‘Livelihood Confidence’ conference for government school teachers, government employees and contract workers was held in Chennai at the Island Grounds on September 11. The conference was held by the Joint Action Council of Teachers’ Organisations-Government Employees Organisations (JACTO-GEO).
Tens of thousands of workers from all over the state participated in the conference. They eagerly awaited announcements acceding to their demands from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, who participated and spoke at the conference.
The workers returned disappointed as the CM did not make the expected announcements. JACTO-GEO had submitted a charter of 60 demands prior to the conference.
While proposing and seconding resolutions at the conference, leaders of various unions affiliated with JACTO-GEO praised The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for fulfilling their demands in their previous tenures.
Some of them mentioned a phrase often used by Stalin “seivathai solvom, solvathai seivom” (we will say what we do, and do what we say), in the expectation that Stalin was going to make big announcements at the conference.
The state coordinator of JACTO-JEO, A. Mayavan, said, “lakhs of teachers are suffering without the previous pay scale. We do not see you as just our Chief Minister, we see you as the saviour who would brighten up our lives and be our protector.”
MK Stalin, who was the final speaker, said, “before coming to the conference I have sanctioned some of your demands. It has only been 15 months since our government was formed. The difficulties of the previous 10 years can only be resolved one step at a time.”
He said temporary and part-time employees in all government departments would be permitted to work till they attain the age of 60. Currently, the age limit is 58.
He also said that from October 15 onwards, transparent online transfer counselling will be conducted for 16,000 temporary and part-time teachers and other employees who are long-awaiting transfer.
He also said that an officer for primary education will be appointed in every district.
The disappointment of the audience was evident at the conference. Their loud cheers and claps had softened upon realising that the expected announcements were not being made.
Speaking to NewsClick Bakthavatchalam, President of JACTO-GEO said, “the chief minister has not fulfilled any of our demands. We were expecting many announcements, he only said that our demands would be met one by one over time.”
“There was very good mobilisation from across Tamil Nadu for the conference, and they came expecting something. But unfortunately, that did not happen” he said.
“We are confident the DMK government will fulfil our demands before the next assembly elections. They have to face the poll somehow and they will be the ones to lose out otherwise,” he said, referring to losing out on votes if their promises are not met.
The message circulated by A. Mayavan after the conference, read, “we came with great confidence, but all that the Chief Minister's speech gave us were big disappointments. We now understand the full meaning of betrayal.”
It further read, “this has taught us the lesson that victory cannot be achieved by praising and glorifying those in power, or by becoming their subordinates. It is only through heroic struggles that even strong fortresses can be shattered and the fruits of victory reaped.”
Notably, the DMK extended solidarity to JACTO-GEO protests while in the opposition, and the workers expected the demands to be clinched now that they are in power.
Demands and Resolutions
Many resolutions were passed at the JACTO-GEO conference where they urged the union government to withdraw the Goods and Services Tax (GST) levied on essential commodities, including rice. They demanded the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 be withdrawn and urged the state government to cancel the new pension scheme and implement the old pension scheme.
The participants also urged the state to take steps to fill the 4.5 lakh vacant posts in the government sector and also abandon the practice of outsourcing and retrenchment in government departments. They also wanted the government to eliminate the wage discrepancy of secondary teachers.
Instead of running the new medical insurance scheme through the insurance company, the Tamil Nadu government itself should adopt and run it, was a unanimous resolution rolled at the conference.
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