98 Pune teachers threaten hunger strike if not made permanent
About 98 primary teachers associated with the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) Education Board schools in the city are working on a minimal salary of Rs 6,000 for the past five years. All of them are still being tagged as replacement teachers, as they had originally joined as replacements of permanent teachers who had gone on long leaves; but the schools have not ended their tenures, and the PMC also continued their services as they were facing a severe shortage of teaching staff. As these teachers are still working as replacement staff, they are earning peanuts.
For justice: Some of the primary teachers had gathered at the PMC Education Board’s headquarters in Shivaji Nagar to pursue their demand of converting them from replacements to permanent teachers. They told officials they would go on hunger strike if their demand is not met.
Fed up of the injustice, the teachers have been running from pillar to post in the hope that they will be made permanent one day, but besides assurances, they have not received anything. Now, they have threatened to go on hunger strike if nothing is done.
Prakash Shinde, who is working as a primary teacher in the Education Board’s school number 63B in Maharshi Nagar since 2009, said, “Five years ago, I had joined the school as a replacement teacher on a salary of Rs 6,000. Today also, I am working on the same salary, without any benefits. For the past two years, we have all been following up on the issue of converting our employment status from contractual to permanent, but nothing has happened till date.”
Of these 98 teachers, 28 are from Urdu-medium schools. Khan Nasir Ahmad, divisional chairman of the Maharashtra State Urdu Teachers’ Union, said, “Our only demand is that the PMC should make all these teachers permanent. If they are permanent, they will be entitled to Rs 8,360 as basic salary and if other allowances are added, the salary will get to about R17,000. We have given the PMC an ultimatum of a fortnight. If they still don’t take steps in this regard, then all the teachers will go on hunger strike.”
Giving the reference of one government notification in the past, he added, “According to state government rules, if a teacher works in any school for three consecutive years, he or she should be absorbed as a permanent employee. But the PMC is blatantly flouting this norm in these cases.”
Another teacher, Vijay Surate, who works in a school in Ramnagar added, “Though we are all replacement teachers, we even perform election duties which a permanent teacher does. We also check papers in Diwali and summer holidays. The only difference is that we receive paltry salaries, and those too, we don’t receive during holidays. The PMC should tell us how should we run our homes in this!”
Many teachers levelled allegations against PMC Education Officer (primary) B K Dahiphale, saying he is deliberately not pursuing their case. When mid-day asked Dahiphale about this, he said, “I have moved the file in this regard to the PMC, and now the PMC officials will take the final call on it.”
PMC Education board’s deputy head Shubhangi Chavan told this paper, “The Education board requires all these teachers, and in their absence it will be difficult to run classes.”
The PMC Education Board is already facing a shortage of teachers, and recently it had made an unsuccessful attempt to fill the posts of primary teachers. Against this backdrop, the obvious question is, why are these 98 teachers not being made permanent employees of the civic body?