Amid the recent claim by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asserting the clearance of 39 months’ arrears for college teachers under the 7th UGC pay revision, a protest emerged led by Asha Balagopal, the wife of Finance Minister K N Balagopal. Her involvement in the demonstrations, held outside the State Secretariat on December 2, highlighted concerns over pending salary arrears and revised Dearness Allowance (DA), lingering for 48 months.
Asha Balagopal, an Assistant Professor at Mahatma Gandhi College, Thiruvananthapuram, participated in a one-day hunger strike organised by the All Kerala Private College Teachers’ Association (AKPCTA), an affiliate of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPM]. The association raised nine demands, primarily urging the immediate release of withheld DA for college teachers and full implementation of benefits under the 7th Pay Revision.
The protest came in light of contradictory statements from Finance Minister Balagopal, who previously claimed the State Government disbursed Rs 750 crores to college teachers as part of the UGC pay revision, alleging non-reimbursement by the Union Government. However, reports suggest discrepancies in the statement.
The AKPCTA president expressed confusion over the statements made by the Chief Minister and Finance Minister, citing a lack of disbursed arrears for teachers from 2016 to 2019. The association demands the payment of DA, aligning it with State Government employees’ benefits. They seek an increase to 25 per cent, highlighting the discrepancy compared to other Government employees.
In response, the Kerala Private College Teachers’ Association (KPCTA), aligned with the Congress, contested the AKPCTA’s comparison, stating that college teachers operate under the UGC scheme and should have their DA set at 46 per cent of their basic salary, in line with recent Union Government increments.
The situation raises questions about the Government’s transparency and handling of the arrears issue, particularly amid conflicting statements from top officials and the participation of the Finance Minister’s wife in protests against the ruling CPM-led Government.