Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan has requested the 2 lakh government teachers on indefinite strike to return to classrooms as the protests are hampering the students' education.
In his appeal, he today said, "It is the government's duty to protect educationists and it is the educationists' duty to protect education. Let talks continue for rights and schools reopen. It's our responsibility to protect education of students, our hope for tomorrow."
With just three months for his class VIII exams, N Hariharan, a son of a farmer, is worried. His teachers at a government school are on an indefinite strike. Around two lakh government teachers in Tamil Nadu are boycotting work along with three lakh employees of other departments since last week demanding old age pension and 7th Pay Commission arrears. Hariharan says, "Our teachers struggle only for their cause and neglect us".
In another school, A Rahul, a class X student preparing for his board exams is worried. He says, "Poor achievers among students will turn worse. Teachers ought to be paid pension too but can they fight without affecting us?"
Arulmozhi Varman, a post graduate teacher, earns around 70,000 a month. He is still worried that post retirement, he won't have an assured monthly income. Around 4,000 government employees who retired over the last few months, he claims, did not receive a proper settlement though they had contributed for the contributory pension scheme. He says, "Abolish this and restore the old pension scheme. Imagine after I retire I will not get any money every month. We are just not able to save anything now with the high cost of living."
Shantha Kumar, a government employee is angry as the political leadership had no qualms to double the salary for lawmakers. He says, "For MLAs they gave a 100% salary hike in one day. It was received with applause in the assembly. Even a one term MLA gets lifelong pension. But we get nothing after teaching for twenty and more years."
The government has said they can't meet the teachers' demands as there is a financial crunch and that already 75% of revenue goes towards salaries and pension. They have started appointing temporary teachers.
Chief Minister E Palaniswami has yet again appealed to government employees to return to work explaining the paucity of funds to rebuild cyclone Gaja devastated areas.