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Chandigarh » Education

Posted at: Jan 12, 2017, 2:12 AM; last updated: Jan 12, 2017, 2:12 AM (IST)

Struggling to make ends meet, SSA teachers start protest

Haven’t received their salaries for past three months despite repeated pleas to authorities

TEACHERSPEAK

  • In their initiative to go cashless, the authorities have rendered 1,000 teachers and 6,000 family members cashless.—Ajay Upmanyu
  • }It is an irony that Chandigarh, a smart city, doesn’t have money to pay salaries to its teachers. — Arvind Rana
  • Don’t force us to do (protest) what we teach our students not to do. — Ajay Kumar

JAC members on hunger strike

  • After an emergency meeting of the Joint Action Committee of teachers on Tuesday, a call for hunger strike was made in support of SSA teachers’ demand. On Wednesday, four volunteers sat on a relay hunger strike in front of the office of the Director, School Education, from 9 am to 5 pm. This will continue till the SSA teachers get their dues, informed JAC convener Bhag Singh Kairon.
Struggling to make ends meet, SSA teachers start protest
Members of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Teachers Welfare Association hold a protest in support of their demands in Chandigarh on Wednesday. TRIBUNE PHOTO: NITIN MITTAL

Charu Chhibber

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11

Ramandeep Kaur lives in a small, rented accommodation in Chandigarh. This teacher in her 20s is not only a daughter but an earning hand for her family who supports her parents’ meager income with her monthly salary. A large part of her income goes into supporting the education of her two younger siblings.

But for the past three months, Ramandeep is struggling to make ends meet. Finances were tight enough when she left her home in Ropar to come to Chandigarh to teach under the Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan (SSA). But now that she is not getting her pay for the last three months, it’s even harder.

Her younger brother is a student at Panjab University, and she has been seeking financial help from relatives to pay his fee. At the same time, Ramandeep has had to plea to her landlord every month to let her stay. The young woman has promised to pay off the rent as soon as she gets her dues. Back home, old parents continue to slog as the family income has gone down by 70 per cent.

In same boat is Hari Om, another SSA teacher. The sole breadwinner of a family of five, Om has no money to pay for his septuagenarian father’s after-bypass care or medicines that cost him Rs 10,000 per month. He had to take a loan from his friends to pay for the same. “Don’t even ask me how I’m managing the day-to-day expenses,” says a distraught Om, adding that if the authorities don’t pay the salaries soon, many like him will get buried under debts which they would never be able to re-pay.

Satish Kumar is going through a similar, if not worse, situation. A single earning hand, feeding seven members, including two children of his own, two of his brother’s, and an old mother, Satish has had to bear humiliation every single day for the last three months at the hands of his landlord who has repeatedly asked him to pay rent or leave.

“If he throws us out, where will I go with four little children? We will be homeless. I can’t sleep at night due to anxiety. I just hope the authorities give us our dues soon,” says an anxious Satish, adding that help from friends have taken care of children’s school fee, but he fears that won’t last long. “How long can anyone help the other? They (friends) have their own families, too, to take care of,” he says.

Ramandeep, Om and Satish are among the 1,000 teachers working under the SSA in the city who have not received their salaries for the past three months despite repeated pleas to the authorities.

The teachers, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Teachers Welfare Association (SSATWA), UT, Chandigarh, today launched a mass protest against the Centre and its departments, Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for not releasing the second installment of SSA amounting to Rs 32 crore to the UT, Chandigarh, due to which their salaries could not be paid.

Protest launched

Holding banners, over 600 junior basic teachers and trained graduate teachers gathered at Sector 20 and launched a mass protest against non-payment of their salaries. Arvind Rana, president, SSATWA, said “We have already sent communication to HRD Minister Prakash Javedkar, Arun Jaitely and UT Administrator VP Badnore about the problems faced by us. The UT administration and local MP Kirron Kher, too, failed in their efforts to resolve our problem.” He said the protest was just a beginning and it would get more intense in coming days.

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