CHENNAI: Meeting the demands of Joint Action Council of Tamil Nadu Teachers’ Organisations and Government Employees’ Organisations (JACTTO-GEO), will lead to government taking away funds allocated for implementing welfare schemes for the general public, said D Jayakumar Minister for Fisheries and Personnel and Administrative Reforms on Saturday.
In a 11-page rebuttal statement to the protesters, he said the government spends over 70 per cent of all funds on salaries, pensions, administration and interests, while only 29 per cent is spent on welfare schemes. Elaborating on the State’s financial position, he said the demands are unreasonable and cannot be met by the government.
The statement was issued shortly after Jayakumar met Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, School Education Minister KA Sengottaiyan and Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan.
Members from JACTTO-GEO, are on strike since January 22, urging the government to meet their nine-point charter of demands, which include repeal of the new pension scheme, settle a 21-month pay arrears according to the new pay commission guidelines, settle pay anomalies for secondary teachers, regularise the services of part-time staff and teachers working at Anganwadis and appoint new teachers for LKG, UKG.
In his response, Jayakumar said Tamil Nadu has done away with the old pension scheme owing to acute lack of funds. He said after repeatedly considering the possibility of re-implementing the old scheme, the State has concluded that it would be impossible to repeal the new scheme.
Commenting on the demanded pay-hike, he said new revisions were introduced in the wages in 2016 as a part of the Seventh Pay Commission. “Implementing the new wages, cost the government 21,594 crore in 2017-18, in addition to the income generated. This cost would increase to 24,000 crore,” he said adding that the government meets this additional expenditure by getting loans from outside. A new pay-hike will cost the government another 20,000 crore, for which there are no resources. JACTTO-GEO has also asked for a pay hike specially for secondary grade teachers.
To this, he said it will not be possible for the State to make exceptions for these teachers as it will disturb the horizontal and vertical parity of pay. “We give secondary grade teachers a special pay of `2,000, in addition to others in their cadre,” he said, adding that the State was not closing down or merging any government school owing to low enrolment.
In a release on Saturday, the organisation condemned the government for not involving them in taking a decision with regard to their demands and arresting senior council members of the association. They demanded that those arrested be released at the earliest.
Meanwhile, the DMK urged the State to convene talks with the protesting JACTTO-GEO members and take steps to put an end to the strike. “I condemn the atrocious activities of the AIADMK led State government,” observed MK Stalin, DMK president, in a statement.