Bengaluru: The State government is considering invoking the stringent Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against Pre-University college lecturers who have threatened to boycott evaluation work as a mark of protest.
The evaluation process is scheduled to begin on Mar. 22. PU lecturers insist they have no choice but to take a stand on the issue as they have been paid less than their counterparts in neighbouring States for years now.
The Karnataka Pre-University College Teachers Association (KPUCTA) announced this boycott and indefinite strike from Mar. 21 at Freedom Park in Bengaluru. Following this, the Department is finding alternate ways to get evaluations done, one of which is invoking ESMA. A senior department official said, “ESMA is one of the alternatives we are thinking of, along with a few other options.”
However, sources said the Department will try its best to convince lecturers to avoid boycotting evaluation. “Valuation is the easiest tool available for both the PU lecturers and the SSLC teachers to hold the administration to ransom. As there is a code of conduct in place, we will try to make them understand that nothing can be announced from the government’s side. We can take the issue before the Chief Minister, who also holds the Primary and Secondary Education Minister post, after the Lok Sabha elections,” the official said.
Reacting on ESMA being invoked, members of KPUCTA said the State cannot threaten them this way. “This is not new. Many of us have experienced ESMA and have been arrested. We are ready to go to jail again, but we will not be withdrawing our decision until our demands are met,” said Thimmaiah Purle, President, KPUCTA.