Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today announced that the revised UGC pay scale would be implemented by the state government for college and university teachers from 1 January 2020.

The Seventh Pay Commission-recommended revised UGC pay scale will be implemented in government and state-aided colleges and universities and will place an additional burden of Rs 1,000 crore on the state exchequer, said Miss Banerjee while addressing a meeting of around 15,000 teachers of higher educational institutes at Netaji Indoor Stadium this morning.

Along with this, teachers will get a three per cent increment in their salaries for four years ~ from 2016 to 2019 ~ but they would not receive any arrears, she said.

However, the announcement failed to receive the usual loud applause from the teachers who had gathered on the occasion and Miss Banerjee asked why smiles were missing from their faces.

She urged teachers to accept the announcement wholeheartedly adding: “Very few states have implemented the revised UGC pay scale but we have done it.”

“Although the Centre and the state has different salary structures we try to give you (teachers and government employees) whatever we can. Have faith in us,” Miss Banerjee said adding “We have to repay Rs 50,000 crore debt this year. Some people are demanding salaries as per the central pay commission. One must understand that the (central) salary structure is different from the state’s.”

Taking a dig at the BJP-led Central government, Miss Banerjee said: “The Central government has RBI, they can open a bank when they wish to and also close it when they wish to. Several central government funds are pending. I do not commit things before polls. If I commit something, I deliver.”

“We can’t stop any projects from Kanyashree to Sabujsathi. We have to continue with Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. We cannot act like the Centre, by making tall promises before elections and then forgetting to implement those afterwards,” she said.

Next, Miss Banerjee said that a host of measures have been taken for ensuring the job security of part-time teachers and guest teachers in different colleges.They get a Rs 5,000 salary hike and would be able to continue their services till 60 years like regular teachers. The state government has categorised the guest teachers and part-time teachers as state-aided college teachers in colleges.

Urging teachers and students to work together, she said: “We will ensure that you can work peacefully. Students should respect your teachers and I am telling the teachers that the government is on your side. We expect teachers and students to maintain cordial ties,” she said.

Observing that Bengal is a talent pool as it has given many Nobel laureates to the country, Miss Banerjee said: “The talent and merit of Bengal is the envy of the entire world.”

She also took the opportunity to congratulate Mr Abhijit Banerjee for winning the Nobel Prize in Economics. “I am immensely proud to see Abhijit Banerjee get the Nobel prize. The number of Nobel prizes that Bengal has received, no other part of the country has received,” she said.

The chief minister’s announcement received a mixed response from the teaching fraternity. The West Bengal College & University Professors Association welcomed the move saying implementation of revised UGC scale had been a long-pending demand of the teachers.

However, Jadavpur University Teachers Association complained that denying the arrears would be a great loss as teachers would be deprived of the corresponding increments.

Prof Debasis Sarkar, general secretary of the West Bengal College Teachers Association justified the demand for arrears by saying that Centre pays 50 per cent of the amount and the state government would have to pay only the remaining amount. “Teachers have never faced a situation like this in the past,” he added.

State education minister Partha Chatterjee said he would hold a meeting with the teachers organisations on arrears. “During our discussions it never appeared that payment of arrears was such an important matter. They had always talked about implementation of revised pay scale and Miss Banerjee took a note of that. I am hopeful that the matter will be resolved when discussions are held,” said Mr Chatterjee.