Teachers continue hunger strike in Tripura

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Agartala, Aug 4 (IANS) Rejecting a government appeal, around 50 teachers belonging to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) continued their indefinite hunger strike for the fourth day on Friday in Tripura demanding regularisation of their jobs.

“We would continue our indefinite hunger strike until the Tripura government decides to regularise our service,” Tripura SSA Teachers’ Welfare Association secretary Bastab Debbarma told the media on Friday.

He said that several state governments in the country had already regularised the jobs of the SSA teachers.

“Though 50 SSA teachers are on the indefinite hunger strike, over 250 others remain present at the hunger strike site and all others support the demand,” Debbarma said.

All opposition parties, including Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have supported the demands of the SSA teachers.

Tripura Congress President Birajit Sinha, disgruntled Congress legislator Ratanlal Nath, BJP President Biplab Kumar Deb separately visited the site here and urged the Left Front government to concede SSA teachers’ demand.

The Tripura government has urged the agitating SSA teachers to withdraw their strike as the state government was “sympathetic to their demand”.

“The SSA teachers in Tripura are getting salaries and some facilities similar to the regular teachers. The government would soon introduce EPF (Employees Provident Fund) for the SSA teachers,” Tripura Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty told the media.

“We have collected information about SSA teachers from many states. Most states did not regularise their jobs. Our Lok Sabha member Jitendra Chowdhury raised the issue in parliament, but the Centre has remained silent on the regularisation of service of the SSA teachers,” he said.

The SSA, introduced in 2001 as a central scheme, is meant to implement the Right of the Child to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009, which aims to universalise elementary education.

In Tripura, around 5,200 SSA teachers are getting pay and allowances similar to regular teachers of the state government.

According to the agitating SSA teachers, unlike the regular teachers, they are deprived of various facilities like provident fund and leave travel concession.

–IANS

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