Lucknow: Shiksha Mitras or ad hoc para teachers in Uttar Pradesh have decided not to undertake any COVID-19 duty in the state and boycott district-level non-teaching duties if they are not paid salary for June.
Adarsh Shikshamitra Welfare Association, Uttar Pradesh, a union that represents issues of contractual teachers in the state has questioned why when full duty (12 months) is being taken from them even in the month of June, why is honorarium for only 11 months being paid.
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The union claimed that despite making shiksha mitras do work, such as ration distribution at public distribution system centres, deputed at COVID vaccination centres and even running e- pathshalas amid pandemic, they do not get salaries for June. This is why they have decided not to take up any additional work apart from teaching duties until the Uttar Pradesh director general of school education (DGSE) ensures them salary for June.
The existing system of appointment of shiksha mitras is an 11-month contract at a monthly payment of Rs 10,000. Their contract ends on May 31 and starts on July 1 every year. Despite not paid the honorarium for June last year during the first wave of the pandemic, they were asked to work in quarantine centres, PDS centres conduct a survey of migrant labourers in rural and urban areas.
Jitendra Shahi, president of Adarsh Shikshamitra Association, Uttar Pradesh, has written the director general of education, apprising him of their concerns. They demanded clear guidelines should be made by the department for payment of honorarium, only then they would perform duties in June.
Shahi said the state’s nearly 1.53 lakh shiksha mitras have similar demands that they be given honorarium for June also.
"We held protests many times and also observed a hunger strike last week to draw the government’s attention, but in vain. Not only during pandemic, but every year, the government deputes us for duty in June and engages us for whole month but when it comes to paying the honorarium, they ditch us," Shahi told NewsClick.
He claimed that hundreds of shiksha mitras and instructors had died during the panchayat elections duties but till now their families has not been taken care of. This clearly shows that the state government is making a fool of contractual teachers, he added.
Echoing similar sentiments, Shiv Kumar Shukla, president of Uttar Pradesh Prathmik Shiksha Mitra Sangh said: "The government should respect our work and pay our honorarium for June because we do hard work on the ground and are not begging for salaries. Shiksha mitras in the state do their work honestly, be it ration distribution, dress distribution to students, COVID duties, economic census and many other government policies."
Shukla further said: "Either the government should consider us as assistant teachers and pay equal to them or if they do not want to fix our salary like government teachers then they must increase our honorarium from Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000, like the Delhi government just did," he said, adding that they recently reminded both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath that BJP had promised in its 2017 Sankalp Patra (manifesto) to solve the problems of shiksha mitras in three months, but even after four years, these have not been fulfilled.
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Opposing the state government's move extending the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) third time in a row, banning strikes in all state government departments, corporations and authorities for a period of six more months, the union leader said this shows that the government is afraid of its employees. He said the employees are making a roadmap and will soon hit the roads against the government and also expose the government’s "hypocrisy" towards its employees.