Revised Pay Scales, Reduced Salaries

In the present bureaucratic set-up in our country, it often happens that the possible becomes impossible and the impossible possible.  The reason is the emphasis on the letter of the law rather than its spirit.  While this causes innumerable hardships to the affected patties, the bureaucrats keep sticking to their ideas in an atmosphere of relaxed complacence totally indifferent to the sufferings of the people.

A case in point is that of the teachers of the government-aided colleges in Chandigarh.  Everybody knows that there are periodic revisions of pay and allowances of the employees to enable them to face the employees have to struggle every hard to get the revision of their salaries. 

The college and university teachers too got their pay scales and salaries revised after a country-wide agitation in 1987 - a strike which lasted for 32 days in all the colleges and universities in the country and which is considered quite unique in the annals of the trade union movement in the world.

Accordingly, the teachers working in the government-aided colleges of Chandigarh received notification regarding the new pay scales on 2.9.88 to be implemented from 1.1.86.  After a while, they even got their salaries in the new pay scales at par with their colleagues working in the government-aided colleges in Punjab which has been the case since 1966.  Till this time everything was going on smoothly and the teachers were beginning to feel that after all the nation did have some consideration for their services.  Thus, feeling more responsible they were preparing to teach more electively.

It was at this time that the axe fell.  The UT Administration suddenly decided in the month of March 1989 to delink the teachers working in the government-aided colleges in Chandigarh from their colleagues in Punjab.  A notification was issued which said that the teachers would then forth receive House Rent Allowance and City Compensatory Allowance on the Central pattern.  The option of the teachers in the procedure in all such cases.  Further, no one could tell why the teachers were to get some allowances on the Central pattern and others on the Punjab pattern while their pay scales were still on the Punjab pattern.

The UT Administration's order resulted in a loss of up to rupees five hundred and eighty per month to each of the teachers working in these colleges.  The reason is that Chandigarh is treated as A-grade city for the purposes of House rent and other allowances by the Punjab government whereas the Central government treats it as a C-grade city.  So if a teacher was getting the House Rent Allowance of rupees one thousand in the old pattern.  Similarly, CCA of all teachers has been reduced from rupees one hundred to rupees twenty only.  It is indeed silly that an employee's salary should thus be reduced because his pay scale is shifted from one pattern to another whereas the house rent and prices of all other goods in the city are going up like everywhere else.

Unpreoedented as it is in the history of the country that the employees should get reduced gross salary in the revised payscales, the teachers protested to the authorities to immediately withdraw the order.  A deputation of the teachers met Shri S. S. Ray, the then Administrator of the UT.  He examined the case of the teachers and found much merit in their demand.  He strongly recommended their case to the authorities in Delhi.

However, the UT authorities were still not convinced and there was inordinate delay.  Meanwhile the teachers were losing a considerable amount of money from their salaries every month and so they launched an agitation.  In the months of September and October the teaching work in all the government-aided colleges was seriously disrupted because of the frequent strikes, dharnas and rallies by the teachers, Since traditionally,  the teachers in these colleges are a part and parcel of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers' Union (PCCTU), there was a token strike for one day in all the government-aided colleges in Punjab in support of the demands of their colleagues in Chandigarh.  Finally, their was a call for court arrest in Chandigarh on November 6, 1989.

It was at this stage that the UT Administration decided to bow down before the teachers' demands.  A delegation of the PCCTU was invited to meet Shri Ashok Pradhan, the Advisor to the UT Administrator had already recommended the teachers' case to the authorities in Delhi.  He further promised to pursue the case personally and get the orders in question reversed.  The then UT Administrator, Shri S. S. Ray, too wrote a reminder to the authorities at Delhi to favorably consider the case of the teachers without further delay.  In view of this, the court arrest programme in the month of November was with-drawn.

The assurance was given but nothing happened for the next three months.  Every time the teachers went to enquire about their case they were put off on one excuse or the other.  Sometimes, it was elections, Other times, it was pure administrative delay.  Now since last Monday (January 22), there has been a lightning strike in all the colleges for four periods every day.  The teachers also held a rally on January 25 which was addressed by Shri Harmohan Dhawan, the local Member of Parliament.  Mr. Dhawan left one with the teachers' demands and supported their cause in the strongest terms.  He said that he would take up the matter with the authorities in Chandigarh and Delhi.

The UT authorities are, however, still silent.  Neither have they called the teachers' representatives for discussions nor taken any remedial measures.  The teachers have thus been forced to intensify their agitation.  There will now be practically  no teaching work in these colleges till February 8 because of the daily four-period lightning strike.  ON February 8, there will be a State-level rally in front of the Punjab Raj Bhavan- the UT Administrator's residence cum office.  There will be subsequent action programmes in the whole of Punjab like strikes, dharnas and rallies which may lead to the postponement of the annual examinations in the state.

The careers of thousands of students are thus at stake.  The parents are worried, the students are worried, the teachers are worried, the principals are worried, the Vice-Chancellor is worried.  They have all written to the UT Administration to give justice to the teachers.  The UT Administration, however, is to still awaken to the facts of the situation.  Unmindful of everything its offices are busy processing the case, writing reminders to the authorities at Delhi, getting in touch with them, and so on.  All the formalities must be completed flawlessly and effectively.  The result, however, seems to be nobody's botheration.

Now the hope of everyone lies in a man with conscience (and some amount of common sense) in the Chandigarh Administration who will some how resolve the present crisis.