Striking TN govt teachers get one last chance to avoid action

Extending an olive branch to the protesting teachers, the Tamil Nadu government has asked them to attend Republic Day celebrations to avoid action. A circular issued by the Chennai Chief Education Officer said, "Teachers who participated in the indefinite strike organised by Joint Action Council of Tamil Nadu Teachers Organisations and Government Employees Organisations, can avert disciplinary action against them, if they present themselves at their schools for Republic Day celebrations on Saturday."

It further said that if the teachers participated in the Republic Day celebrations in their schools and continued to work thereafter, disciplinary action would not be taken against them as per law. However, they will still not be given salaries for the days they were absent under the ‘no-work-no-pay’ policy. The circular added: "This is a chance for teachers to avert action against them. However, if they do not show up on Saturday, we will replace them with temporary staff on Monday."

The strike is going on despite a stern warning issued by the government. In a letter to Secretaries of all department, Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan warned of strong action against unauthorised absence. She said that demonstration or any other form of agitation affecting the normal functioning of government offices amounted to a violation of the Tamil Nadu Government Servant Conduct Rules, 1973.

In case of employees’ absence, it would be considered unauthorised, and they will not be entitled to pay and allowances, in accordance with the principle of no work no pay, she added.
Pointing out that the Supreme Court has already observed that there is no proper justification from the employees to go on strike and staging a protest would be a punishable offence, she asked the departments to ensure that the employees do not involve in any kind of violence. She said that no employee should take leave with an intention to participate in the strike.