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Season of discontent ahead of Lok Sabha polls Triple whammy for State govt

February 23, 2019 06:00 AM

COURTESY MIRROR FEB 23

Season of discontent ahead of Lok Sabha polls
Triple whammy for State govt
Over two lakh teachers go on mass casual leave demanding consideration of fixed pay five-year term in pension benefits; earlier 45,000 GSRTC employees went on strike; Fair Price Shop owners to go on strike from March 1; Congress offers support to agitators
Ahmedabad Mirror Bureau
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Trouble mounted for the state government on Friday, a day after 45,000 GSRTC employees went on strike over wage issues, when over two lakh teachers went on mass casual leave demanding better employment terms.

Thousands of teachers gathered outside the Gujarat Assembly complex on Friday morning demanding their demands be met, amid reports that the police lathi-charged on them after some of the teachers had scuffle with cops on duty.


Refuting charges of baton-charge, Gandhinagar Range IG Mayanksinh Chavda said, “We detained some 250 teachers trying to forcibly enter the Assembly complex. We only intercepted them and stopped them outside the Assembly. Our purpose is never to stop protests held in peaceful manner.”

Overall, 1,500 teachers were detained and all roads leading to Gandhinagar were sealed by the police to prevent primary teachers from different parts of Gujarat from reaching the venue of protest.

Teachers’ demands

“Our main demands include implementation of the old pension scheme, separate paygrade for primary teachers, exemption from compulsory clearing of computer exams and consideration of fix-pay service period of five years for determining seniority and promotions,” Digvijaysinh Jadeja, president of the Gujarat Rajya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, said.

Kheda-based primary teacher Chirag Patel, who protested outside the Assembly, said, “We were assured ahead of 2017 polls that our demands would be met. But government is only giving lip service. Because our services are considered only after five years, we tend to lose about Rs 7,000 per month.”

Surendranagar-based teacher Hemant Kumar said, “We would get better pension benefits if our fixedpay service tenure of five years is also considered. But the state government is reluctant to fulfil our demand.”

Another teacher Paresh Khimani said, “We are assigned different works including election duty. On one hand they are reluctant to give us better pay and on the other expect us to do extra work.”

Over 3 lakh employees now on strike

With over 3 lakh state government employees on strike, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was forced to announce formation of a three-member ministerial committee to talk to agitating primary school teachers and GSRTC staff.

The committee comprises Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, Agriculture Minister R C Faldu and Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama.

Other employees threaten strike

It may be noted that besides teachers and ST employees, even Fair Price Shop owners across the state have announced to go on strike from March 1. While district health employees are already on strike for six days now.

Harshad Patel, a fair price shop owner in Jashodanagar area of Ahmedabad, said, “We are seeking higher commission from the state government. Our counterparts in other states get as much as three times what we get here in Gujarat. We also face problems due to frequent breakdown of the online software which affects our trade.”

Congress supports agitators

Congress has jumped to the support of the agitators. Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani condemned lathi-charge on teachers. He said, “The state government only believes in giving false promises ahead of elections and forgets them later. The government should sit with agitators to resolve issues.”

Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani tweeted, “I support the agitation by teachers, multi-purpose health workers and employees of the GSRTC. Vijay Rupani resolve the issue if you haven’t lost your humanity. Your approach is anti-employee

 
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