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Will fight this battle of survival till last breath, say protesting Punjab teachers

Teachers have been staging a dharna in Patiala for the past 23 days against Punjab government over a cut in their salaries in lieu of regularisation.

punjab Updated: Oct 30, 2018 11:39 IST
Navrajdeep Singh
Navrajdeep Singh
Hindustan Times, Patiala
punjab teachers,regularisation,Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
Sixteen protesting women teachers in Patiala got ‘Punjab Sarkar Murdabad’ written on their hands with ‘heena’ on the occasion of ‘Karwa Chauth’ as their protest for regularisation of their jobs without a pay cut entered its 21st day on Saturday.(HT Photo)

In protest against the Congress-led state government over a cut in their salaries in lieu of regularisation, protesting teachers have been fight for pay protection as they stage a dharna in Patiala for the past 23 days.

All 8,886 teachers recruited under centrally sponsored Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) schemes, and taking part in the protest have a different tale to tell. While some fear bankruptcy others are worried about social and economic stigma, but all teachers say they will fight till their last breath.

“It is fight for our survival. We cannot let government exploit us,” says Arjinder Singh Kaler, a maths teacher from Amritsar. Kaler says he served as a principal in a private college in Muktsar before joining as a teacher under SSA in 2009. With a PhD in maths, he says, “Insecurity in private sector forced me to choose government sector, but now they are making us to start from square one. I was earning ₹25,000 as a college principal and now being offered ₹15,000,” he says.

Kaler adds he has to pay a ₹20,000 as monthly instalment against home loan of ₹15 lakh and ₹6,000 as car instalment.

Another teacher Harpreet Kaur from Moonak in Sangrur district, who holds a PhD in education, says she was earning ₹52,000 as principal of private college, before she joined as a teacher in 5178 scheme of the state government on ₹6,000 per month.

“I would have not quit my college job had I known about government’s ill-treatment of teachers. The government has forced qualified teachers to sit on roads to fight for their jobs,” she says.

Harjit Singh Jeeda, 39, of Bathinda says school education is his only passion and adds that he joined to give his best in government schools. With eight years of experience as a political science lecturer, Jeeda says there are no regrets as teachers are staying put for their rights.

Another teacher, Nanita (38) from Nabha, who came at protest site after attending her school, shared a similar story. “We cannot just surrender before the government. We will fight it out till our last breath,” she says.

First Published: Oct 30, 2018 11:31 IST