Enrol staff under ESI, schools told

Managements and teachers are not too happy with the Corporations decision

In March this year, the State Government passed an order directing schools - whether public, private, aided, partially aided or unaided - with a staff strength of 10 or more, to enrol their staff into the ESI scheme.

Under the scheme, the staff would contribute 1.75 per cent of their salaries, while the managements have to put their share of 4.75 per cent.

However, the managements and teachers are not too happy with the decision. Teachers who need benefits, feel shortchanged with what is being offered, in the name of health coverage. President of the Karnataka Unaided School College Administrative Teachers and Workers Federation K Nagaraj says every teacher needs coverage, whether the institution has more than 10 people, or less.

Quality treatment

“What is the use of ESI enrolment, when those hospitals can’t even look after their own workers? There is no proper infrastructure and most of us are not convinced about the quality of treatment that is offered,” he says. What Nagaraj says, would be effective is a scheme on the lines of Yashaswini, offered to farmers belonging to co-operative societies.

“All teaching and non-teaching staff could be enrolled in this programme and since this scheme is being implemented in a network of health centres in the State, access to medical care would also be easy and effective,” he suggests.

Teachers from the Government aided sector have been demanding health coverage, suggesting implementation of a plan like the Arogya Bhagya Yojane, a scheme for police personnel and their families. Introduced in 2002, this plan once again has private and Government hospitals across the State implementing the scheme. However, the plan is still in a draft stage.

Management woes

The managements, especially smaller ones, are worried whether they will be unable to bear the financial burden of such a move.

Many of the pre-nursery and nursery schools run with smaller investment and margins that are hardly profitable.

In such institutions, the teachers are not necessarily permanent.

“Several of the teachers stay for less than a year and leave only to return a year or two later. In such cases, we bring in replacements. It is very difficult in such cases to keep track of the enrolment in ESI and handling the administrative work that comes with it,” a principal of a pre-nursery school in Bangalore South complains.

The Government Order is now being challenged in the Karnataka High Court by the Karnataka Unaided Schools Management Association (KUSMA) and others. “There are only two hospitals for the City of Bangalore. How can the Government expect all the teachers to get their treatment at only two centres, which are hardly equipped for the job?,” said advocate K V Dhananjay.

Order challenged

Incidentally, six other states - Bihar, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and West Bengal - have issued a similar order, all within a time frame of 10 months. The order has been challenged in all the states.

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