Successful agitation of MFUCTO

Tapati Mukhopadhyay & Madhu Paranjape

MAHARASHTRA Federation of Universities and Teachers’ Organization (MFUCTO) took a decision of state-wide movement in their general body meeting held on June 17, 2018. In the meeting, a resolution highlighting nine important demands was placed, and passed unanimously.

Agitation of MFUCTO began on July 2, 2018 when a movement resolution was submitted to the Higher Education Department, Government of Maharashtra. It included a charter of   demands and an action plan. After many actions call for ‘jail bharo’ was given for September 4, in which a large number of teachers participated. Another call for ‘cease work’ was observed on September 11. Since there was no response from the government, an indefinite ‘cease work’ by the teachers began on September 25, 2018.

The first meeting of the MFUCTO delegation with the minister of higher education took place on September 25 where all demands were discussed. However, the minutes of the meeting did not show any reflection of the assurances given by the minister. MFCUTO continued the strike and subsequently, the minister revised the minutes and gave a time-bound assurance to MFUCTO on October 8.

The executive committee of MFCUTO met on October 10 and decided to withdraw the agitation. Major issues along with the minister’s assurances are given below:

The high power committee of the government has given its consent for lifting the ban on recruitment. The department of higher education has recommended that 60 percent of teaching posts are allowed to be filled whereas remaining 40 percent will be filled on clock hour basis and it will be ensured that the teachers on clock hour basis will get a minimum Rs15,000-Rs20,000 remuneration as ‘honorarium’. In due course, these 40 percent will also be filled up on regular basis.

One of the most arbitrary and anti-teacher actions taken by the government of Maharashtra was withholding 71 days’ salary of university and college teachers for over five years. This unlawful decision to withhold the salary was taken against the teachers who, at the call of MFUCTO, went on a non-cooperation of examination work to press for fulfilment of their long pending and just demands. The minister clearly stated in the meeting that teachers who have completed their examination work after the agitation shall not fall under the Supreme Court guideline of “no work no pay”. Hence, the amount sent back to finance section will be called back and at the earliest the salary of 71 days will be paid to the teachers.

The 7th pay commission will be implemented and awarded to all universities and affiliated college teachers along with state government employees.  50 percent of the arrears, arising out of the implementation of new pay scale will be paid by the central government as reimbursement of the state expenditure. This involves huge administrative work. For expediting this work, the minister assured that a ‘special cell’ will be constituted. Before January 2019, all the paper work will be completed, which will be submitted to the central government

From year 2005 new pension scheme is implemented to all the employees of state government. Therefore, the teachers, who are appointed after 2005, cannot be given old pension scheme. However, DCPS number and other information regarding contribution will be given to the teachers and this work will be done at the level of director of higher education.

The self-financing institutions are run in an unregulated manner, where most of statutory norms including pay scales / terminal benefits /allowances to teachers are violated. The state government allowed the self-financing engineering college managements to implement 5th Pay Scheme w.e.f. June 2000 instead of January 1, 1996, thereby depriving the faculty arrears of 54 months. This arbitrariness continued even in the 6th Pay Scheme. A strong regulation is required for salary payment to the teachers of self-financing institutions. It was decided that online payment of salary system may be introduced in self-financing colleges and with this fee regulatory authority will be able to decide the fees of the students. This matter will remain under the observation and control of the government department.

The state government has exhibited complete callousness to address the issues of thousands of contractual/ CHB/Adhoc teachers who suffer from deprivation of all statutory service conditions such as security of service, pay-scales, allowances, leaves, vacation salary, career advancement, terminal benefits etc., while performing the same duties as the regular teachers. For full-time work-load, most contractual teachers are paid a consolidated salary ranging from Rs 6,000 to Rs. 18,000 per month or clock-hour basis (CHB) remuneration at Rs.300 per hour. Many of these teachers have worked for several years and many are paper setters/ examiners/ moderators and even chairpersons of examination in their respective subjects. It was stated by the minister that the revision of rate of remuneration for visiting as well as CHB teachers is under consideration. Government resolution in this effect will be issued shortly.

There is no mechanism available to the teaching community for redressal of grievances that arise from cabinet decisions. The Bombay High Court in its order dated May 10, 2013 in writ petition 1326 of 2012 had directed the state government to “set up the grievance redressal mechanism, before which the teachers or their association can raise their grievances or demands………”
The Minister stated that as per the order issued by the high court the government has constituted the grievance and redressal cell on March 10, 2016 for  all  teachers, and also teacher’s union to raise their grievances/problems/complaints before the cell.

The provisions of Maharashtra Public Universities’ Act 2016 have led to curtailed participation of elected representatives of teachers who remain vigilant against violation of rules and exercise social control in the decision making of the university. This is happening due to drastic reduction in the number of elected members and disproportionately large number of members nominated by the chancellor and vice-chancellor on various bodies of universities. This adversely affects the democratic governance of universities as the nominated members generally accept the official line non-critically.
The minister stated that all amendments to the Maharashtra Public University Act 2016 are made as per recommendations of joint committee of legislation. However, government will inspect this matter and all wrongful appointments will be reviewed.

Denial of incentive increments to teachers, who acquired M Phil / PhD prior to January 1, 2006, resulted in multiple anomalies and led to: (i) Juniors getting more pay than the seniors, (ii) Substantial difference in pay within the peer group and (iii) Consequential lower levels of pension. Several writ petitions were filed in different benches of the Bombay High Court by hundreds of aggrieved teachers.  The high court has ruled in favour of stepping up of the pay of the senior teachers. Supreme Court also upheld the decision of the Bombay High Court.
The minister assured that PhD. increments, step up cases will be put up as per the directions of Supreme Court by higher and technical education department to finance department. The minister assured that a government order will be issued for the benefit of all the affected teachers.

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