The All Garo Hills SSA School Teachers’ Association (AGHSSASTA) has once again written to Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma seeking early release of their four months’ salaries that have been pending with the state government.
The salaries of the SSA teachers have remained unpaid since July this year, said the teachers’ body.
“This has caused us extreme hardship – physically, emotionally, economically and mentally – as we have not been able to meet our financial needs for our family and our children,” the AGHSSASTA said in a statement.
The teachers lamented that the salaries have been on hold even during the time of the pandemic, when their struggle for a meaningful life was as bad, if not worse than that of others.
Interestingly, no other state in the country has reported delay in payment of salaries to SSA teachers or otherwise, with Meghalaya being unique in the mess.
In most states, SSA teachers are being paid at par with those of government school teachers, while in Meghalaya the situation is otherwise.
Subsequent governments through the years have not changed the status quo, with SSA teachers continually having to forgo their salaries for months at a time.
“In other states, SSA teachers have been paid regularly. But in Meghalaya, SSA teachers have to build the nation while serving on empty stomachs. This is beyond our ability and capacity,” they added.
The teachers added that if the situation continued and the government failed to clear their dues, most of the SSA schools would have single-digit enrolment, which, according to the new policy would mean shutting these schools down.
In their memo to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, the teachers said that they had hoped for a better tomorrow when the CM had earlier stated that “Education as a top and first priority among all other departments”. They lamented that the ground situation has not changed at all.
Seeking immediate redress of their grievances, AGHSSASTA said that they would not be happy with the disbursal of 1-2 months’ salaries.
“The salaries of all 4 months should be cleared by the competent authorities. We have taken a decision that in case the state fails to release our salaries by November 5, we would have no other option than to launch an agitation from November 11,” the teachers’ body added.
As per the new guidelines for ensuring Covid-appropriate behaviour at localities, village and community level, various enforcement committees such as state, assembly, district and local level on Covid awareness will be constituted apart from establishing a state-level monitoring cell to generate Covid awareness and enforcement activities.
On the other hand, according to the new SoP for Covid-appropriate behaviour, shops will draw circles/squares in front of their establishments to ensure proper queuing and distancing by customers.
“Local shops that do not enforce physical distancing by their customers may be forcibly closed for one week,”it said, adding that selling of tobacco products like pan, khaini etc., shall be restricted in all localities.
Local Covid Awareness-cum-Enforcement Committees (LCC) formed by the Assembly-segment Covid Awareness-cum-Enforcement Committees will monitor people visiting the local tea stalls, vegetable vendors, shops etc., to ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour like wearing of face masks, maintaining a minimum distance of 6 feet and frequent hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
Social and customary ceremonies, rituals and funerals should be organised for the family members only, it said. People should stay safely at home and go out only when essential and unavoidable, it said. Get-together, mingling with neighbours, friends or relatives, playing cards/ludo, gathering at tea shops, occupying public places/spaces in groups should be avoided, it added. Consumption of alcoholic drinks is prohibited.
Restrictions may be in place in regard to entry and exit of non-locals during night, it said.