JACTTO-GEO protests in Tamil Nadu enter day 7: 150 striking govt teachers arrested as state deadline comes to an end

  • The members of the JACTTO GEO launched an indefinite strike on 22 January

  • The Tamil Nadu government had ordered the protesting teachers to resume work on Monday

  • Nearly 420 teachers were suspended across the state on Saturday in view of the protests

The Tamil Nadu Police has arrested 150 people in connection with the protests by Joint Action Council of Tamil Nadu Teachers Organisations and Government Employees Organisations (JACTTO GEO) in Tiruvallur, Sun News reported on Monday.

The members of the JACTTO GEO launched an indefinite strike on 22 January to press for nine demands, which include reverting to the old pension scheme, settling a 21-month pay arrears according to the new pay commission guidelines, and hike in pay for secondary grade teachers.

The JACTTO GEO leaders will hold a high-level meeting in Madurai on Monday to decide the further course of action. "Even though the government has arrested and suspended many of our senior members, we have formed a shadow high-level committee to replace them and coordinate the strike,” the body's state co-ordinator Meenakshi Sundaram was quoted as saying by The New Indian Express.

The arrests were made on the day the Tamil Nadu government-mandated deadline for teachers to resume work comes to an end. In a letter addressed to the chief education officers of all the districts, the school education department director said that the positions of the teachers who do not resume on Monday will be considered vacant, reported The News Minute. Those who rejoin work after Monday will be allotted any posting in the revenue district as per vacancy and will face departmental action, the letter further said.

 JACTTO-GEO protests in Tamil Nadu enter day 7: 150 striking govt teachers arrested as state deadline comes to an end

Representational image. News18

On 25 January, the Madras High Court said that no contempt can be initiated against government teachers in Tamil Nadu on strike, as it has not stayed the strike or declared it illegal. The division bench, comprising Justices M Sathyanarayanan and P Rajamanickam stated this when counsel Naveen Kumar Murthi made an urgent mention to move contempt.

Making it clear that the court had only directed them to return to work by 25 January in the interest of children, the bench said "it is for the government to monitor and take appropriate action against those who flout the order of the court."

In wake of the protests, the Tamil Nadu government had decided to to engage retired and temporary staff members to handle primary grade classes. All district-level officials were directed to engage temporary teachers and pay them a consolidated amount of Rs 7,500 per month, reported The Times of India.

Chief Minister EK Palaniswami accused the Opposition parties of instigating the protesters. "(The Opposition parties) have been making a false claim that the state government is refusing to meet the demands despite having sufficient funds. In reality, the government is facing financial constraints due to a cyclone on one hand and drought on the other," another article by The New Indian Express quoted him as saying at a public meeting on Saturday.

DMK leader MK Stalin hit out at the AIADMK government, saying that the protests were a result of "anarchy".

On Saturday, the Tamil Nadu government had suspended nearly 420 teachers across the state on Saturday in view of the protests. News18 had quoted state minister D Jayakumar as saying in a statement that the striking teachers protests with demands that cannot be fulfilled. “The suspension was inevitable. The teachers were arrested and came out on bail. We cannot allow them to work when they have an FIR that involves them,” a school education department official was quoted as saying in the report.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jan 28, 2019 13:17:49 IST