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Teachers’ strike stalemate continues in Odisha

A meeting of the inter-ministerial committee was held today, in which representatives of the Nikhil Utkal Primary Teachers’ Federation participated.

Vikash Sharma
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Teachers Strike PhotoPhoto: OTV

Teachers Strike In Odisha

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It is now 11 days that primary teachers across Odisha are staging demonstrations by skipping their duties in schools. This has adversely affected the learning in schools across the state. Even though the Odisha government on Monday held a discussion with agitating primary school teachers and appealed to them to withdraw their ongoing protest, the teachers seem to be in no mood to budge.

A meeting of the inter-ministerial committee was held today, in which representatives of the Nikhil Utkal Primary Teachers’ Federation participated.

“If the state government doesn’t fulfill our demands, we will continue our stir," said a teacher. The teachers have categorically stated that they would continue their stir till their demands are not fulfilled.

“The Odisha government is considering their demands and I appeal to the teachers to withdraw their agitation,” said State Finance Minister, Bikram Keshari Arukh.

Following such stalemate, several parents today also staged demonstrations in front of some schools and urged the state government to ensure that teachers return to schools.

Meanwhile, the 662 category teachers' association has also threatened to resort to cease work from September 25. The association has threatened to hold a ‘maha samavesh’ after going on leave en masse. If this happens, education in +2 and +3 colleges is likely to be affected.

“We will go to colleges on September 25 and meet MLAs and submit a memorandum the next day. If no step is taken within these two days, we will resort to agitation,” said Golak Nayak, President of the 662 category teachers' association.

On the other hand, the Opposition parties are now gearing up to corner the state government over the matter in the Odisha Assembly starting on September 22.

BJP leader, Surath Biswal said, “The teachers were forced to shut the schools as they lost trust in the state government which failed to resolve their grievances even after giving repeated assurances.”

Congress MLA, Sura Routray said “Uncertainty looms large over the fate of students. I urge the government to hold talks and ensure that teachers return to schools.”

BJD MLA, Prashant Muduli said, “We also say that the demands of teachers are legitimate. But resorting to cease-work and putting the students’ future at risk is not justified.”

With elections barely seven months away, the state government is also in a quandary as there is every possibility that teachers' and lecturers' resentment may have a large impact.

Rift among teachers!

In a major development, the ongoing cease-work agitation by the primary teachers was put on hold by Nikhil Utkal Primary Teachers' Federation. However, other teacher associations have announced to continue with their stir.

Secretary of the federation, Charulata Mohapatra on Monday announced their decision to postpone their ongoing strike over their three-point charter of demands.

It is pertinent to mention here that several teacher associations including Nikhil Utkal Primary Teachers' Federation had been staging demonstrations across Odisha for the past 11 days. The teachers are demanding abolition of the contractual appointment system, hike in grade pay and restoration of the old pension scheme.

“Inter-Ministerial Committee had convened a meeting today and a detailed discussion was held on our demands. The Committee stated that it will take time to consider our demands. As the Committee sought some time, we decided to put our strike on hold for the time being,” said Mohapatra.

Suresh Chandra Pradhan, Convenor, Western Odisha Primary Teachers’ Association said, “Our agitation will continue as other association members said that the state government has not fulfilled our demands. We don’t know why the secretary general of the federation announced such decision on her own.”