Many students in Tamil Nadu government school had to return home on Tuesday morning after they were greeted by locked doors as their teachers joined the indefinite strike called by Joint Action Committee of Tamil Nadu Teachers Organisation-Government Employees Organisation (JACTTO-GEO).
Members of JACTTO-GEO have been on a strike seeking the rollback of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and the re-implementation of the old pension scheme which was in force before 2003.
Explaining the difference between the two schemes, Ilangovan, former organiser of JACTTO-GEO says, “In CPS, every month we as well as the government, have to contribute the same percentage of our salary towards a pension fund. That savings will be given back to us as pension after our retirement. In the older scheme, we did not have to contribute at all.”
The members of JACTTO-GEO have also sought that the seventh pay commission be implemented. Many secondary school teachers, who are part of JACTO-GEO, are also protesting against their posting as teachers for kindergarten classes.
“Today, as far as the school education department is concerned, we have around 75 per cent cooperation from teachers for the strike. They are the biggest force in this strike. The real picture will be known only after 2-3 days,” adds Ilangovan.
He also adds that since the teachers’ concerns are valid, there are slim chances of them withdrawing the strike. “Postgraduates and experienced teachers who have been teaching class 8 and upwards are being posted as permanent kindergarten teachers. How can I say that their anguish is not correct?” he asks.
However, with board exams around the corner, parents have questioned the timing of the indefinite strike.
Speaking to TNM, S Arumainathan, the President of the Tamil Nadu Students-Parents Welfare Association, says that the move will affect students’ performance in their exams. Adding that teaching is a time-bound profession and that there are set timelines for portion completion and revision, Arumainathan says that such strikes will impact the academic cycle.
“Now, we have board exams for Class 11 also. This kind of strike without an end date creates a sort of mental stress in students since they will also be thinking of the duration of the strike. With exams so near, I think it is an avoidable stress,” he says.