Punjabi University teachers held a massive protest on the varsity campus in Patiala on Wednesday to demand immediate release of their arrears. The teachers threatened to intensify their agitation if the government failed to resolve the issue at the earliest.
"We would approach all bureaucrats and politicians visiting the campus in case our demands are not met," said an agitated faculty member.
The protesting teachers started their march from the university coffee house and ended it in front of the vice chancellor's office where they held a big rally.
All four factions of teachers - Teachers for Intervention in Education, Free Thinkers' Forum, Democratic Teachers' Front and Punjabi University Teachers' Front - participated in the march.
The teachers have been demanding release of their arrears announced by the pay commission from the state government and union grants commission (UGC) for a period of 43 months (from January 1, 2006 to July 31, 2009).
The union leaders Rajesh Kumar Sharma, Ran Singh Dhaliwal, Jaswinder Singh Brar, Satnam Singh Sandhu, Surjit Singh and RC Gupta spoke during the rally urging the vice chancellor to press the state government to get their arrears released. The speakers deplored the discriminatory attitude of the government towards the varsity teachers.
"The government has already released a part of the arrears to its employees. It has also announced that the next installment would be released this year. But it is paying no heed to our demands. It is a sad state of affairs that in the era of knowledge society, university teachers are being treated like this," rued one of the speakers.
Another speaker said that the real value of the arrears has already eroded considerably in the wake of high inflation.
Punjabi University Teachers' Coordination Committee (PUTCC) has organised several rallies and dharnas on the campus for this demand. The PUTCC further resolved to intensify the agitation in the coming days if the state government failed to act immediately.
Apart from demanding the pending salary arrears, some speakers also raised the issue of neglecting teachers in the decision-making of university.
The teachers have submitted a memorandum to the vice chancellor for the earliest settlement of their demands.