Over 30 para-teachers have launched an indefinite fast near Bikash Bhavan, the building housing the state Education department here, demanding hike in their salaries, a member of the teachers organisation said on Sunday. Co-Convenor of 'Para Teacher Oikyo Manch' Bhagirath Ghosh told reporters on Sunday that over 1,000 para teachers are on an indefinite sit-in at Central Park, Salt Lake since November 11.
However, finding "no positive response" from the state government with regard to their economic demands, "We are now forced to sit for fast unto death if the government remains unresponsive to our demands," Ghosh said. Over 30 para-teachers are currently on the indefinite fast since November 16, he said.
A spokesman of the Manch said the Rs 10,000 monthly salary of para teachers at primary schools and Rs 13,000 in Higher Secondary schools is meagre considering the present market condition and in comparison with the salary in other professions. Para-teachers are those who assist in teaching in schools and are not full-time teachers. Last year Education Minister Partha Chatterjee had announced a pay hike for 22,085 para teachers at primary level from Rs 5954 to Rs 10,000
Similarly for 26,585 para teachers at the higher secondary level, the minister had announced a hike in their salary from Rs 8,500 to Rs 13,000 and said that their retirement age would be 60 years. Ghosh said though para teachers are the backbone of schools, especially in districts, they are the most neglected lot and "repeated deputations to Education department officials and the Education minister failed to yield any positive result."
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh visited the venue of the agitation by the para teachers on Saturday and expressed solidarity with them. CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty had also visited the venue of the agitation by para teachers a few days ago. West Bengal Education minister Partha Chatterjee did not take any phone calls when contacted for his comments on the issue.