Tapati Mukhopadhay

On Tuesday, September 4, 2018, on the eve of teacher’s day, Maharashtra Federation of University & College Teachers’ Organisations (MFUCTO) has observed a ‘black day’ by courting arrest - “Jail Bharo” from Fort Campus, University of Mumbai. This was as  part of the resolution passed in the general body meeting in MFUCTO on June 17,  2018.

The resolution has a detailed charter of demands and an action programme. The action began on August 6, 2018 by observing a demands day by wearing black badges. It gradually intensified when on August 20, 2018 ten units of MFUCTO held demonstrations at the offices of regional joint directors. A centralized demonstration was organized on August 27 at Pune before the director of higher education.

On September 4, the court arrest programme took place at Fort Campus, Mumbai. On September 11, all units will observe one day ‘cease work’. If during this course of agitation negotiated settlement is not reached/arrived, a state-wide indefinite ‘cease work’ will begin from September 25, 2018.

The “jail bharo programme” was highly demonstrative and inspiring.  Around 2,000 college   teachers assembled at Fort Campus, University of Mumbai for the participation in it. Beyond teachers, several other organizations, like students organizations, have also extended their support for the cause of the teachers’ legitimate and long pending demands.

Prior to courting arrest, a meeting took place for two hours (12 noon to 2 pm). At the end of the meeting, teachers marched towards the garden gate of the university in a disciplined manner for courting arrest, where police stopped them. The police explained that such huge number of teachers could not be taken to Azad Maidan police station. Therefore, the university lawn was converted into a ‘jail’, and subsequently they were released.

Many leaders addressed the gathering. The president of MFUCTO, Tapati Mukhopadhay, inaugurated the programme, followed by S.P. Lawande, secretary of MFUCTO. Kapil Patil- MLC,  was also present and extended support. He addressed the gathering and assured that he will take initiative for an amicable talk with the government for resolving the problems. Veteran teacher’s leaders B.T. Deshmukh and  K.K. Theckedath addressed the teachers, providing their analytical assessment of this movement.

The Bombay University and College Teachers Union (BUCTU) was the host of this programme. Madhu Paranjape, general secretary, Chandrashekhar Kulkarni and Tahir Mohammad shared the main responsibility for organizing the programme.

The main highlights of the demands are the filling of the vacant posts on regular basis and it is officially learnt that the number of vacant posts in the state is around 9500, but actually vacancy as per UGC guidelines is much more than that. These posts are casually filled by the contractual/ ‘clock hour basis’ teachers, who are outside any regulations. They are appointed for 11 months and get  remuneration of just Rs. 10,000 to 20,000 per month, with no security of the service. Not only contractual teachers but the teachers appointed since  2005 onwards are also deprived of getting the regular pension. Contractual teachers and newly appointed young teachers joined enmasse in this agitation. They were raising slogan- “scrap dcps bring back old pension scheme”. This (informal recruitment) is bringing in severe compromise with the quality of education.

In this situation MFUCTO is demanding immediate lifting of ban on the recruitments and filling of all vacancies on regular basis. It also demands implementation of the principle of “equal pay for equal work” for the contractual teachers. However, implementation of the recommendations of the 7th pay commission is the nationwide demand. All state governments including Maharashtra should take initiative for the immediate action on the implementation on this scheme in the time bound manner otherwise state government may lose the benefit of central grant.  MFUCTO has submitted the charter of demands to the chief minister and education minister of government of Maharashtra with an expected negotiated settlement within this period. However, if it fails then state-wide indefinite cease work will begin from September 25, 2018.

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