More than 100 primary school teachers from schools run by the Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE) will join a hunger strike on Friday announced by a few Christian groups.
The teachers have alleged that the board, which governs more than 150 schools in the city, has not paid the teachers arrears amounting to almost Rs10-15 lakh since 2005.
They will join the protest planned at the Archbishop house, Holy Name Cathedral, Colaba, from 10am.
The teachers wrote a letter to Oswald Cardinal Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay, on Tuesday, pledging support to the indefinite hunger strike.
They said they had not been paid arrears for many years according to the Sixth Pay Commission scales, and that more than 2,000 primary school teachers were affected owing to this.
A teacher, who will join the hunger strike but did not wish to be named, said, “In the past, we have protested outside the ABE’s office [in Colaba] and even written to the representative of Pope Francis in New Delhi. But our problem has not been addressed. Now, we have no option but to resort to the hunger strike.”
“We have been paying the teachers according to the Sixth Pay Commission ever since it was implemented in November 2012. We can’t pay the arrears as the unaided schools can pay it only from the students’ fees,” said Father George Athaide, secretary, ABE.
“Despite knowing this, if the teachers are sitting on the hunger strike, we cannot stop them,” he said.
Groups such as the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC), Maharashtrian Christian Youth Forum (MCYF) and Catholic Residents Organisation for Social Service (CROSS) recently wrote to the Archdiocese announcing the ‘fast-unto-death’, demanding prompt action against what they claim are bogus land dealings by the body and without the consultation of parishioners.