Namchi, 29 Jul:
In latest developments regarding the imbroglio at CCCT-Chisopani, the protesting staff and faculty members have suspended their protest following a meeting with Director, Higher Education and Technical Education, HRDD, Deepak Pradhan, who met them at the campus today and reportedly assured them that issues raised by them will be resolved in a week’s time. The pen-down strike will hence be suspended for the week and a final call taken after word arrives on how their issues will be addressed by HRDD, it is informed.
The State Government now has its own engineering college, but even as the Sikkim Institute of Science and Technology (SIST) was being inaugurated yesterday, staff and faculty members of the Centre for Computers and Communication Technology (CCCT), whose campus and responsibilities have now been attached to SIST without their services being regulated under the State Government continued their peaceful pen-down protest against this uncertainty. The pen-down strike had begun on 27 July, the eve of SIST’s inauguration.
The 84 staff and faculty members of CCCT are demanding an immediate solution to their service confusion.
They explain that CCCT was established to bring technical education to the State along with Advanced Technical Training Center (ATTC) through the World Bank-assisted “Third Technician Education Project” of the Union Ministry of Human resource Development in the year 1999.
Both, CCCT and ATTC, were running as autonomous technical institutes of the State Government under the supervision of a trust and also helped along by grants from the State Government. Fee collected from the students and the grants received from the State Government kept these institutes functioning until the recent decision of the State Government to make courses at these institutes free for Sikkim students. Both the institutes then came fully under the HRD Department with the salaries and other expenses of the college now coming entirely from the State coffers
The administration however remained under the trust and the staff and faculty members were not recognized as State government employees.
Now, with the establishment of the government engineering college in the CCCT complex and additional staff and faculty proposed to be brought in as regular government employees recruited by SPSC, employees at CCCT are feeling short-changed because they continue to be under a trust and outside the purview of government employee pay-scales.
Further, CCCT faculty members will also be required to take classes at the SIST institution CCCT and SIST but not at par with the new employees in that they are still not government employees.
The continuing protest of the CCCT staff did not go down well with the HRD Minister RB Subba, who, in his address during the inauguration yesterday, expressed “deep dissatisfaction” over the protest during such a historic event.
He further said that that a better approach could have been attempted to resolve their issues but protesting on such an occasion cannot be tolerated.
Speaker KN Rai, who was present as the chief guest yesterday, also expressed “dissatisfaction” over the protest and commented that the protest was “disgraceful” and also “disrespectful” towards the students, the institution and the invited guests.
“Their protest shows that they are against the establishment of Sikkim Institute of Science and Technology or against the students of Sikkim,” he remarked.
Later, while speaking to this correspondent, Minister Subba and Additional CS GP Upahdaya, both agreed that the ongoing protest was “immature” and poorly timed.
Mr Upahdaya informed that State Government had not yet made a final decision on the CCCT staff and faculty members and their status. He added that the Department had not yet been approached about the issue.
He also informed that CCCT is governed by a social trust and it will be easier for the trust to bring any aids and grants for the institution and pointed out that the institution was kept under a trust even though the State Government was looking after the institution.
“The protest is unethical and since they are employed by the trust, it will for the trust to take appropriate action,” he added.
Minister Subba agreed and added that the trust will call a meeting and discuss these issues and address them accordingly.
Should the pen-down strike continue and the faculty members refuse to take classes, salaries will be cut according and disciplinary action initiated, he added.
The protesting staff and faculty members of CCCT in turn informed that their protest was peaceful and not unethical or immature. They added that they were disappointed by the aggressive stance taken by the concerned authorities.
They stressed the we protesting in the hope that their insecurities will be addressed problems resolved, but the tone of the response was very unfortunate.
They added that they have been approaching the Department with these issues since the year 2009 and had even brought the matter to the attention of the Chief Minister.
“We had hoped that all hoped that the concerned authorities would meet us and suggest a suitable way forward, but they didn’t come to us even when they visited the campus, following which we continued our protest. We are not against the establishment of SIST or the State government, in fact we have always advocated bringing an engineering section to the campus,” they said.
They also informed that they will continue with the pen-down strike till the government resolved their issues.