Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan's non-teaching employees union blocked the national highway near Jalandhar bypass for more than one hour on Saturday. Non-teaching staff members, working under contract, were demanding implementation of regular pay scales and regularisation of their jobs.
Earlier in the day, the union members from across the state had gathered for a protest rally at Dana Mandi in Ludhiana. They raised slogans against chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, education minister Sikander Singh Maluka and director general, school education, Kahan Singh Pannu.
The union members then carried out a protest march towards Jalandhar bypass. They managed to reach the national highway after breaking the barricades put up by the police where they sat on a dharna for more than one hour.
The union members also wanted to disrupt traffic at the Jalandhar bypass, but the police personnel managed to stop them.
The police had deployed an anti-riot van and a fire brigade to tackle the protestors.
Union president Talwinder Singh said the non-teaching employees had conducted meetings with the chief minister, education minister and education secretary, but nothing had been done so far.
He said the employees had been working for the last eight years in various offices under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan. "The government had promised that regular scales would be given to these contractual employees from April 1, 2012. It has not fulfilled the promise after the assembly elections," he said.
District Fatehgarh Sahib union president, Naresh Bareta, said, "We are getting very low salaries. It is difficult to live far from home at such low salaries. I belong to Bareta in district Mansa and I am doing a job in Fatehgarh Sahib. The government should think about our plight."
When asked why the union members had chosen Ludhiana to stage their protests, a union member said, "Ludhiana is a metro city and is in the middle of Punjab. A reverberation in Ludhiana has repercussions all over the Punjab. Our aim is not to disturb anyone. We are just fighting for our rights."
The protest ended when assistant commissioner of police, central, Ramneesh Chaudhary announced that a meeting of the union had been fixed with officer on special duty to the chief minister and education secretary on Tuesday.
Though the traffic was diverted to other routes before the agitating teachers came on the national highway, the commuters faced a lot of trouble due to the jam in the streets. A lot of people were seen walking the distance between Karabara chowk and Jalandhar bypass.