Bangladesh’s public university teachers have asked Finance Minister AMA Muhith to offer public apology for his ‘incoherent’ comment about their demonstration to press for a separate pay scale.
The Federation of Bangladesh University Teachers’ Association (FBUTA) warns the minister that he will be responsible for further consequences if he does not apologise within the ‘next 24 hours’.
Wednesday’s warning came a day after Muhith commented on the teachers’ abstention from work to push their demands, including abolishment of the selection grade in the new pay scale.
University teachers have been demonstrating since last December after the Pay Commission proposed the eighth pay scale.
The Cabinet on Monday approved the Eighth National Pay Scale with a basic pay ranging between Tk 8,250 and Tk 78,000.
Public universities’ selection grade professors enjoyed the top grade along with secretaries and major generals in the Seventh National Pay Scale. Senior professors were included in grade-2 and professors in grade-3.
However, the eighth pay scale does not separately mention the status of selection grade professors.
Muhith on Monday said the country’s most educated section was demonstrating for the “lack of knowledge” and that their work abstention had “no justification”.
“They don’t know what the pay scale has for them,” he said.
He went on alleging the universities promoted its teachers whenever it wished and dubbed it a “corrupt practice”.
The teachers’ federation in a statement the same night dubbed his comments ‘rude’ and ‘uncalled for’.
On Wednesday, the federation in another statement claimed the minister had ‘tarnished the government’s image’ on previous occasions with his ‘uncalled-for’, ‘rude’ and ‘funny’ comments.
“He was a minister under a dictator and his autocratic mentality is still intact. His arrogance is the result of that unchanged autocratic attitude,” the statement, issued in Bengali, said.
It said the minister’s comment had angered the country’s 55 million-strong ‘education family’.
Independent MP Tahjib Alam Siddique in an unscheduled discussion in Parliament on Wednesday also took a dig at the minister.
“The teachers are demonstrating for an end to the discrimination and the finance minister gave his reaction in his own way saying the teachers lacked knowledge,” he said.
Siddique lauded the teachers for continuing their movement.
In the statement, the teachers’ federation hoped government would fulfil their demands without any delay.“We’ll be forced to resort to tougher demonstration to realise the teachers’ logical demands,” it warned.
Jatiya Party MP Kazi Firoz Rashid told Parliament that no classes and examinations were held during the teachers’ demonstration.
He feared the students would suffer if the demonstration lingered on and urged the government to consider their demands.
The government has asked a Cabinet committee to evaluate the teachers’ proposals and make recommendations, the Cabinet secretary said on Monday.
Rashid said, “I’d request the finance minister to discuss the matter (teachers’ demands) with the prime minister and the education minister to find a solution.”