On the second day of the indefinite strike called for by the members of the Joint Action Committee of Tamil Nadu Teachers Organisation – Government Employees Organisation (JACTTO-GEO) over pensions, the Madras High Court ordered the teachers to return to work by January 25.
Members of JACTTO-GEO have been on a strike since Tuesday, pressing the government to give in to their demands. The strike affected a good share of government schools in the state since the teachers expressed solidarity with the demands and joined the strike. On Tuesday, many students who went to their schools in the morning were forced to turn back home as the schools were locked for want of teachers.
In this situation, a student from Chennai’s Arumbakkam filed a petition in the Madras High Court, seeking an order directing the teachers to get back to work. The petitioner had stated that this strike affects the students, especially since the board exams are inching closer.
The petition was heard by Justices M Sathyanarayanan and Rajamanickam on Wednesday. They directed the teachers to return to work by January 25 keeping in mind the welfare of the students.
Earlier, Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan had warned government employees not to participate in the strike and said that participating in the strike and affecting the normal functioning of government offices would be a violation of the Tamil Nadu Government Servants’ Conduct Rules and that such absence would result in pay cuts for those days.
One of the major demands of the members of JACTTO-GEO is the rollback of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and the re-implementation of the old pension scheme which was in force before 2003. The CPS the employees and the government contribute equal share of money every month towards a pension fund, which will be given back to the teachers as pension after they retire. The older scheme did not require contribution from the teachers but gave pension for those who had retired. They have also sought the disbursal of Seventh pay commission arrears which has been pending for around three years.