Under the banner of Bihar Rajya Sikshak Sangharsh Samanvaya Samiti (BRSSSS – Bihar State Teachers’ Struggle Coordination Committee), 3,75,000 contract teachers in Bihar are on strike from 17th February 2020. The BRSSSS declared that they will go on an indefinite strike after holding a meeting on 16th February. Contract teachers are demanding that they be given equal pay for equal work. They also want a published set of rules regarding their working conditions, they want the Old Pension Scheme and they want the benefit of compassionate posting.
The State President of the Committee, Brijnandan Kumar has said that there will be no teaching activity in schools during the strike. They have also decided to boycott the Matric examination. Students have been informed that there will be an indefinite strike of teachers beginning on Monday. A Quick Response Team has been formed in every district which will picket at all schools to ensure that schools are shut down.
Simultaneously, the TET-STET qualified teachers union held its state level convention in Patna. Teachers came together from all parts of the state. All teachers who attended this convention supported the strike action from 17th February. The State President of the union, Markandey Pathak said that there will be a Teachers Struggle yatra throughout the state from 17th February to 14th March. After this there will be a teachers convention organised in Patna on 15th March.
On the call of BRSSSS, the middle school teachers have decided to go on a strike from 27th February. The leader of the regular teachers, Anand Kausha has declared that from 27th February the regular teachers will also go on strike. He said that they were not ready to hold fraudulent discussions with the government.
On the other hand, Bihar government has unequivocally declared that there will be no discussion on the issue of equal pay for equal work. It is claiming that its fiscal condition does not permit it to pay contract teachers at the same scale as it is paying experienced permanent teachers. It is saying it will have to incur Rs.28000-30000 crore to pay 3.75 lakh teachers at this scale. With this kind of expenditure the government will have to terminate many of its other programs.
Contract teachers are continuing their strike in various districts across the country. The protests are being carried out at the district headquarters, offices of the block authorities or at the schools.
Bihar government has intensified its attacks on the teachers. It has declared the strike of the teachers illegal and has ordered strict action against them. The Department of Education has issued orders that F.I.R will be registered against those contract teachers who are participating in the strike or who do not turn up for exam paper evaluation work and their services will be terminated with immediate effect.
This threat was implemented against 14 teachers of Patna district on the fifth day of the strike. Such action is being increasingly taken against teachers in several districts of the state.
The teachers are unanimous in their statement that their strike has been peaceful. We are not obstructing the Matriculation exam. Despite this, false allegations are being made and teachers are being dismissed. Brajandan Sharma, the State Convenor of the shikshak samiti that the teachers are sitting in protest at the District Education Officers’ office. He said that all teachers will assemble in Patna on 24th February with the demand of “equal pay for equal work” and working conditions and 7-point demand. The teachers will also assess how they are being exploited. He vowed that the campaign will be escalated if punitary action is taken against even a single teacher.