Boarders in trouble as Bishop Cotton School workers go on strike

Shimla, April 23 (Inditop) About 600 boarders at the Bishop Cotton School here are in trouble as workers have been on strike for three days to support their demand to reinstate sacked colleagues, and there is no sign of an agreement.

Tension between the school management and employees mounted when all the Class IV employees, including kitchen staff, went on strike April 20 when the talks between school authorities and the sacked employees failed. They are demanding reinstatement of 33 sacked employees.

Caught in the confrontation are the boarders who have been deprived of essential services and security since the staffers went on a strike.

“As most of the Class IV employees of the school have joined the strike, essential services like cleaning, food and laundry have totally come to halt. Teachers have volunteered for extra duties to keep services functional,” said Tsering Punstong, a Class 11 student from Assam.

“We are feeling totally insecure in this tense atmosphere. Every time we are hearing anti-management slogans… we are totally fed up,” he said.

Another student Sushant Aggarwal echoed: “There is no security in our school these days. Last month striking employees entered the school carrying rods and sticks. I have already informed my parents.”

Last month, three people were injured when the police baton-charged striking employees and activists of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), affiliated to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which was supporting their cause.

School headmaster Roy Christopher Robinson also admitted that essential services in the school have been affected, but said “there is no need for worry as some employees have joined their duty and the management has temporarily employed some staff for managing cleaning and sweeping work and running hostel kitchens.”

“During the talks, we have agreed to re-employ 18 people, but they (leaders of sacked employees) were insisting we take back all the 33 sacked employees,” he said, adding that “there is no question of re-employing all of them”.

Rajinder Thakur, a parent, said: “I am quite worried over the lingering dispute between the authorities and the employees. It’s a crucial year for my son and the dispute is affecting the academic atmosphere.”

Bishop Cotton School has been a prominent boy’s school in Shimla right from the day it was opened in 1859. The school will celebrate its 150th anniversary in July this year.

It boasts of alumni like writer Ruskin Bond, constitutional expert Fali S. Nariman, golfer Jeev Milkha Singh and former Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh.