Leaflet, 24.8.98

We must intensify the struggle.

The FEDCUTA has called for continuing the struggle for the implementation of the UGC recommendations. On the insistence among others of the DUTA President, who attended the meeting without ascertaining the opinion of either the DUTA General Body or the DUTA Executive, the FEDCUTA National Executive had to concede that General Body meetings of the respective associations be held by 26 August, and called for strike for another week from 27 August. The DUTA Executive, meeting immediately after the FEDCUTA Executive, recognised that slackening of pressure at this stage would be grievously detrimental to the struggle and decided to continue the boycott of classes till the DUTA General Body meeting on Wednesday, 26 August 98.

It is unfortunate that the DUTA President refused to convene a General Body Meeting on 21 August (i.e. before the meeting of the FEDCUTA National Executive) in response to a demand made by over a thousand DUTA members in writing. Be that as it may, the anger felt by teachers against the intransigent attitude of the HRD Minister as well as their resolve to stand firm on our legitimate demands and to continue the struggle was repeatedly expressed in resolutions of staff associations and by individual speakers at the DUTA Executive meeting.

The indefinite strike by four lakh teachers led by the AIFUCTO is now entering the third week. Teachers in the central universities affiliated to the FEDCUTA launched their own strike from 17 August so that the strike encompassed the entire teaching community in the country. Faced with the threat of the indefinite strike by the AIFUCTO, the HRD Minister, in an act of desperation, issued a paid advertisement in the hope of misleading the public and dividing teachers. Subsequently, the threat of united strike action by the AIFUCTO and the FEDCUTA forced the HRD Minister to reopen negotiations. While nothing but vague verbal assurances were offered by the Minister during these negotiations merely on anomalies rather than on any of our major demands, the united strike action led to another round of talks with the UGC on 19 August. The UGC, whose recommendations have been contemptuously bypassed by the BJP Government, had of course been directed only to sound out the representatives of the FEDCUTA and AIFUCTO and had no brief to make any commitment. It is up to us now to continue the strike, intensify the pressure and compel the Government to negotiate on our major demands, namely, the UGC recommended pay scales from the entry point upwards, three assured career promotions up to Professorship in colleges and departments, facilities for professional development, a fixation formula appropriate to teachers’ longer scales and autonomy to the universities in the framing of service conditions.

It is indeed clear that whatever negotiations have taken place have been the result of the countrywide determination of teachers not to buckle under. Even invocation of repressive measures by state governments where the BJP is a partner has not cowed down teachers. Equally clear is the abject failure of the HRD Minister and his inspired saboteurs to confuse or to divide teachers.

The DTF cautions the FEDCUTA against sending any signal to the HRD Minister that teachers will accept anything less than the UGC recommended pay scales. Even a hint of any such position, especially from the DUTA, will abet the government move and cannot but demoralise teachers determined to obtain their demand through struggle.

The DTF calls upon teachers in all colleges and departments to resolve unanimously at their association meetings on 24th and 25th August to direct the DUTA leadership to send the unmistakable signal of continued strike action at the GBM on 26 August. There is reason to believe that this weak-kneed Central Government which has had to capitulate before the struggles of nurses, doctors, postal employees and other organisations of professionals cannot hold out too long on its irrational and obstinate refusal to concede our just demands, which are intimately linked to the whole future of higher education.

The DTF hails determination and solidarity of teachers in the face of repressive measures

  • Haryana :The BJP supported Govt has imposed ESMA for six months on striking teachers, but teachers are determined not to withdraw their strike.
  • Rajasthan : The BJP Govt. is resorting to threats and indiscriminate transfer of Govt. college teachers, particularly of strike leaders. The strike is total in the universities and the non-Govt. colleges and the Govt. college teachers are intensifying their strike despite the repression.
  • Uttar Pradesh : The BJP Govt. has issued instructions to Principals seeking rosters of teachers on strike. Most Principals have refused to oblige and have turned away the administrative officers sent by the Govt. to collect the rosters. The attempts by a Govt.-sponsored paper organisation to disrupt the strike have not succeeded.
  • Sikkim : Principals of colleges asked to provide rosters of striking teachers have refused to cooperate. Like the UP Govt., the Govt. of Sikkim is also trying to use administrative officers to collect these rosters.

Despite these repressive measures, teachers all over the country have remained united and determined in their legitimate struggle. Along with the strike action, teachers are holding dharnas, demonstrations, hunger strikes, conventions, and other forms of demonstrative actions in support of our demands.

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