Mumbai: Three members of Maharashtra Legislative Council, representing Teachers’ constituencies, have opposed the unwarranted hike in salaries of legislators in the state as teachers from approved unaided schools have been working without support of government grants for years.

Independent MLCs Shrikant Deshpande (Amravati Teachers) and Ramnath Mote (Konkan Teachers), besides MLC Kapil Patil, of the Lokbharati Party, representing Mumbai Teachers constituency, turned down the pay hike citing poor financial conditions of teachers from unaided schools. The substantial pay hike granted to the 288 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), 78 Members of Legislative Council (MLCs) and 39 ministers has not gone down too well with these members of the Upper House.

Deshpande and Mote in statements issued said that teachers from approved unaided schools have been working without support of government grants for the last 15 years and hence their conscience did not permit them to accept the pay hike. Mote has gone to the extent of announcing his intention to boycott the Teachers Day celebrations on September 5.

Both said that they had never sought any pay hike in the first place. On the last day of the just-concluded Monsoon Session on August 5, the motion for the pay hike was adopted without any discussion, Deshpande said in his letter. He added that neither the members had demanded it, nor had they sought any appointment with the government on the issue.

I am appalled. There was no demand to hike the salaries...not a single proposal was mooted, forget about the discussion over it...this Bill was passed in less than a minute.

The legislator said he has requested the Chairman not to accept the hiked salary until teachers working in non-aided schools and colleges the since last 15 years are not given their financial dues. I have learnt this unwarranted hike in the salaries of legislators would cost an additional burden of Rs 50 crore annually. This money, rather than spending on millionaires, could be used in welfare schemes for the needy and common people...or for those working on paltry salaries in non-aided schools. Deshpande added that he has been fighting for implementing the old pension scheme for teachers who have joined service since 2005.

On August 5, the last day of Monsoon Session, the Assembly passed a Bill approving a hefty hike in salaries and allowances of legislators, Ministers and presiding officers. The argument in favour of the pay hike was given that there had been no pay hike since 2010. The salary hike would benefit a total of 325 members (Assembly and Council), 39 Ministers, two Opposition leaders and four presiding officers.

Deshpande added I have written the letter guided by my conscience. The decision would send a wrong signal and show we are not acting responsibly. I hope a few like-minded people would come forward (and oppose the hike). Mote said that after evaluating the unaided schools and classrooms, through a cabinet decision had announced a grant of Rs 162.25 lakh. Instead of the decision being implemented before the ensuing Ganapati festival in September, the government came out with this pay hike. He announced his decision to boycott the official function held to observe Teachers Day on September 5, Mote said.