It is official now. Most of the 4.5 lakh striking contractual school teachers in Bihar will not get their salaries for the months of February and March. Ignoring the hardships of the striking teachers, locally known as ‘Niyojit Shikshak’, and their families during the ongoing lockdown, the state government has decided to pay salary only for the month of January.
A senior official of the Education Department said that the government will not pay salaries to the striking teachers for the strike period. “The department will pay salaries for the month of January and February, but striking teachers would be paid their salaries for the month of January only, not for the month of February when they joined the strike,” said the official, adding that this was decided on the directive of the Bihar Education Minister Krishna Nandan Prasad Verma.
Last month, Verma had warned striking teachers that they would be marked absent and their salary would be deducted on the ‘no work no pay’ principle.
R K Mahajan, additional chief secretary of the Department has instructed all the district education officers (DEOs) to pay the salary for January to the striking teachers and for those not on strike, two months’ salary is to be paid.
Angry over Bihar government’s decision, Brajnandan Sharma, convener of Bihar Rajya Shikshak Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, said that the state government is deliberately creating trouble for the striking teachers. “The government is punishing teachers for the ongoing strike.The government should pay salaries for the month of February to the teachers to help them during the lockdown,” he said.
Sharma said all striking teachers have been working to create awareness to combat the spread of coronavirus during lockdown. “The government should take a humanitarian view to pay the salaries.”
He also said that if the government pays salaries of February to the striking teachers, they will donate one day's salary to the Chief Minister Relief Fund to fight the novel coronavirus.
Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav, too, has demanded that the state government pay salary to the striking teachers in view of the unprecedented crisis following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the following lockdown.
Striking teachers are facing a difficult situation owing to the lockdown as they have not been paid salary for the past three months. Their strike demanding ‘equal pay for equal work’ and revival of the old pension scheme has entered its 42nd day. They have been on an indefinite strike since February 17, the day class X examination of the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) started. Yet, there has been no move to open a dialogue with the teachers.
The strike call had been given by the Bihar Rajya Shikshak Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, a joint platform of 26 school teachers’ associations.
As of Wednesday, there were 38 COVID-19 positive cases in Bihar, with one person dead. So far, the state had tested 3037 samples, a number far less when compared to its huge population.