With the Joint Action Council of Tamil Nadu Teachers' Organisations and Government Employees' Organisations (Jactto-Geo) in no mood to call off their indefinite strike and return to work, the Tamil Nadu government on Friday roped in all District Collectors, requested them to ensure the smooth functioning of schools in their respective districts and gave them powers to initiate action against the striking staff.
“As the exercise of engaging teachers is going to be a massive one, it may not be possible to accomplish this task without your involvement. Therefore, you are requested to bestow your personal attention to this exercise and ensure that the schools are run without any hindrance. You are also requested to ensure that disciplinary action is initiated against all defaulting teaching/non-teaching staff,” Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan wrote to all District Collectors on Friday.
Meanwhile, the School Education Department, which decided to hire temporary teachers, on Friday increased its consolidated pay from ₹7,500 to ₹10,000. However, there was no data on the number of applications the government had received. Despite these announcements, representatives of Jactto-Geo courted arrest in various parts of the State.
About 250 persons courted detention while trying to picket on the Kamarajar Salai in Chennai.
The Chief Educational Officer, Chennai, directed teachers to report for duty on Saturday, the Republic Day. If teachers returned to work, there would only be no pay for their period of absence, and if they didn’t, strict action would follow, a communication stated.
In Vellore, over 2,000 protesters came together for a march towards the Collector Office Road.
In the southern districts, according to the coordinators in charge of each district, the number of employees who courted arrest crossed the 10,000 mark, and in many districts, the ministerial staff attached to the Police Department joined the stir in a big way. Many government schools wore a deserted look.
The police had a tough time handling the protesters, especially in Ramanathapuram district, where agitators made an attempt to block the Ramnad-Rameswaram NH. Vehicular movement was hit for about an hour.
In Madurai city, there were altercations between the striking employees and the police.
Over 2,200 State government employees and teachers in Coimbatore district continued their indefinite strike on Friday by staging a road blockade near the Coimbatore Collectorate. The city police removed the protesters, including a few differently abled teachers. Meanwhile, the School Education Department here issued show-cause notice to nearly 5,300 teachers.
Over 5,000 government employees and teachersstaged road-rokos in Erode, Salem and Namakkal districts. Around 3,000 government employees and teachers staged road-rokos in Tiruchi and neighbouring districts.
A flower vendor caused a flutter during a stir near the Collectorate in Tiruchi when he took off his clothes in public after he was allegedly roughed up by some striking employees for seeking passage.
Over 1,600 protesters were arrested in Tiruchi, where a large number of teachers continued the strike. Around 2,000 agitating government employees in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts were arrested.