“This is not Kashmir, but the view of Haryana and these are not disoriented stone pelters, but teachers imparting computer education in government schools,” said the protesting computer teachers who were brutally cane charged by police on September 16 in Haryana’s Panchkula. “The mistake is so much that they feel hungry, their children demand food from them, but the children don’t know that lathi comes first.”
Around 650 computer teachers, under the banner of Computer Teacher Welfare Association (CTWA), were demonstrating to demand equal pay for equal work from the Haryana state government, when the local police started thrashing them with canes, resulting into many of them getting injured and immediately hospitalised.
“Thousands of computer teachers in the state have been staging protests at different places since August 20,” CTWA President Balram Dhiman told NewsClick. At the heart of the protests is the demand to regularise 2,200 computer teachers and another 2,300 computer lab assistants who have been in service since 2013.
The computer teachers and lab assistants were hired by private companies for teaching in government schools in 2013, after the Haryana government had outsourced the work of hiring them. However, mired with low wages, no allowances, and no job security, the teachers and assistants demanded regularisation.
“The lab assistants in the state have not received their monthly salary for the past six months,” said Mahipal Singh Saini of Computer Lab Assistant Sangh, “… and only yesterday [on September 17] we received salary for just one month.”
The lack of job security is majorly due to the absence of any sanctioned posts. According to Saini, Haryana’s Directorate of Secondary Education has around 3,300 post sanctioned as for the computer teachers. However, none of them have been filled yet. Instead, teachers on contractual basis have been hired who face exploitation on daily basis.
“While we have been doing equal work for years, we are now demanding the state machinery to accommodate us on those vacant posts, making our jobs more secure” said Dhiman.
Interestingly, the state of Haryana is set for the Assembly Elections later this year. Ahead of the elections, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is vying hard for the votes of the government employees in the state by announcing series of policy change. However, with most of the announcements only resulted in paying lip service to the labour rights of the employees in the state, workers are on streets demanding end to contractualisation and equal pay for equal work. Will the Khattar government pay any heed to their grievances is yet to be seen.