Kohima: Braving a heavy downpour, the All Nagaland Ad-hoc Teachers Group 2015 batch, comprising 1166 members, conducted a peaceful march on Monday, starting from the Solidarity Park, Kohima, to the New Secretariat junction, demanding the regularisation of their services.

Addressing a press conference ahead of the protest, the spokesperson of the group, Bendangtemsu Ozukum, said it resorted to a democratic form of protest because the government failed to meet their demands.

He informed that some group members were appointed before 2015, but are eligible to take the suitability test to be absorbed as regular employees.

He alleged that the Department of School Education (DoSE) deployed various tactics to delay the suitability test for the batch, but it remained silent and waited patiently until it was conducted two years later in 2017.

The department, he said, has so far failed to declare the test results and has not given any explanation as to why it remains unannounced.

When the group raised its voice in 2018, the government informed them that their service regularisation could not be taken up at that moment due to a case filed in court by the Action Committee Against unabated taxation (ACAUT) and the Public Service Aspirant Nagaland (PASN) against class I and II gazetted posts which were supposedly accepted as backdoor employment.

Subsequently, he said that the government granted them the 6th ROP scale of pay. Before that, members of the group were employed with a fixed pay of Rs 6,600 for primary teachers and Rs 8,260 for graduate teachers on a monthly enumeration.

Ozukum informed that ANATG-2015 submitted a representation to the government in March 2020 but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all activities came to a standstill.

But despite several representations that were submitted post the COVID-`9 induced lockdowns, he said that the government has not responded.

With no other option left, he said that the group resorted to the democratic form of protest to voice their demand as they received “step-motherly treatment”.

He questioned how long the members could go without getting regularised and how long they have to serve without any job security or benefits which other regular employees enjoy.

Ozukum said the members were also performing similar duties performed by the regularised teachers and that there was no break for them on the basis that they were on Adhoc appointments.

He then disclosed that their current agitation was the result of the 30 days ultimatum the group served to the department on July 21, 2022. Ozukum hoped that since their case was genuine, the government would pay heed to their demand and fulfil it at the earliest.

Responding to a query on the nature of protests they were willing to resort to, Ozukum said they were ready to even go for a hunger strike and would continue to protest until their demands were met.

What is the government’s response?

The Principal Director of School Education, Thavaseelan K, informed that the issue of regularisation of Adhoc/contract service has been referred to the Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms (DP&AR) and has also been taken up by the Cabinet several times. 

The officer said that the instances/documents of regularisation as cited by the group were reprocessed. But as service regularisation issues are restrained by Judicial Orders of the High Court, the matter was submitted to the Chief Secretary and authority concerned.  The Department was then advised to refer the matter to the P&AR, Justice and Law and Finance Department. Accordingly, the matter was resubmitted to the P& AR.  

The officer said that the instances/documents of regularisation as cited by the group were reprocessed. But as service regularization issues are restrained by Judicial Orders of the High Court, the matter was submitted to the Chief Secretary and authority concerned.  The Department was then advised to refer the matter to P & AR, Justice and Law and Finance Department. Accordingly, the matter was resubmitted to P & AR.  

The P&AR commented that as per judicial pronouncements, the proposed regularisation of service is not feasible at this juncture.

And so, as directed by the Chief Secretary, the Department has also sought the legal opinion of the Advocate General, Nagaland and the Law and Justice Department for which a reply is awaited.  

Thavaseelan then warned all Adhoc teachers to resume their normal duties immediately, failing which disciplinary proceedings will be initiated against defaulters as deemed fit. 

“It is made known to all teachers that the period of absence will be treated as Dies-non and the principle of No Work, No Pay will be imposed. Further, disciplinary action will be initiated against the employees as per the Nagaland Government Servants Conduct Rules, 1968,” the government warned.

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