Maharashtra teachers indefinite strike will enter 35th day

The degree college teachers’ indefinite strike will enter its 35th day on Monday, and is slated continue after a meeting on Sunday between chief minister Ashok Chavan and a 16-member delegation of Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation’s (MFUCTO) executive committee failed to arrive at a consensus.hough Chavan told the members that he "understood their issues", the government could not reach a final decision, and now another round of talks will be scheduled this week, this time between the CM and MFUCTO, along with higher education minister Rajesh Tope.

The strike, which started on July 14, saw nearly 26 hours of discussions between MFUCTO and the higher education department. But as the deadlock continued, MFUCTO had asked Chavan to intervene. Subsequently, a MFUCTO delegation met Chavan on Sunday. "We had a good meeting. The CM said he has understood the issues being raised by us, ie, implementation of the ’composite scheme’ of the sixth Pay Commission and wrongful implementation of NET/SLET retrospectively on 10,000 teachers appointed prior to December 1999," said MFUCTO president CR Sadasivan.

On the issue of NET/SLET, the CM said he was "in agreement" with MFUCTO that the matter should be resolved through a policy decision of the government, instead of sending individual cases to the University Grants Commission (UGC). "However, the CM stated that since Tope was unable to participate in Sunday’s discussion, only a one-sided view was available to him, and hence it would be necessary to also obtain Tope’s view before taking a final decision," said Sadasivan.

On pay scales, Chavan said that though there are certain benefits in the composite scheme, if it is implemented for teachers other sections may also demand the same. "The CM said this would involve a huge financial commitment the government was not in a position to accept immediately, and that it requires further examination. However, he said we can have further negotiations on the matter and admitted that with some modifications, the composite scheme could be accepted," said Sadasivan.

Since further negotiations are necessary, Chavan has decided to fix another meeting between August 19-21 as per Tope’s convenience to arrive at a final decision. "We are hopeful the CM will pave the way for ending the strike," said EH Kathale, MFUCTO general secretary.

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