Sangrur unemployed teachers outside Punjab education minister's house.
Amid ongoing protests by farmers against the three central agri laws, a fresh pakka morcha (agitation) has begun in Punjab, with unemployed teachers staging an indefinite sit-in outside the residence of state Education Minister Vijayinder Singla in Sangrur.
The morcha was launched on December 31 by the unemployed BEd teachers union, which also represents those who have cleared the teacher eligibility test (TET) conducted by Punjab government. Among others, the morcha has members from TET Pass Unemployed Teachers Union, All India DPI Teachers Union, PTI Teachers Union Punjab, Unemployed Art and Crafts Teachers Union, and Unemployed Multipurpose Health Worker Union.
The unions have formed an umbrella body naming it the United Teachers’ Union.
Sukhwinder Dhilwan, a union leader, said, “We have started our pakka morcha outside the house of Education Minister as Punjab government neither gave us jobs nor the unemployment allowance. There are over 35,000 unemployed TET-pass BEd teachers in Punjab.”
“The separate unions had been protesting for their demands at different platforms. Taking a lesson from the farmers’ struggle, all the unemployed teachers’ unions have now come on a united platform,” Dhilwan said, adding they had also been part of farmers’ protests in Punjab and at Delhi border.
Recently, the Punjab government also conducted exams to recruit more than 370 master cadre teachers’. Dhilwan claimed that a large number of posts are vacant but government had advertised to fill only a few seats. Against the post of 100 Punjabi and Hindi teachers, a total of 21,000 candidates had appeared.
As part of the protest, teachers are sleeping on the road. They bring from the langar at nearby gurdwaras while tea is being served by members of the unions on a rotation basis.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Sangrur, Viveksheel Soni said during the daytime “40-50 members stage dharna while only 10-15 stay” there at night.
“We have told them not to organise dharna like this and that too in this harsh weather. The minister is not in town. We will organise te union leaders’ meeting the minister whenever he returns. I am sure, this dharna will be lifted soon,” the SSP said.