To: All Parents
Subject: School Closure
I regret to inform you that DPS Budgam will not reopen on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, as originally planned.
We have been informed by a group of bus drivers that they will not drive buses unless their demands of substantially higher wages are met. In this context, please note the following points:
- The school administration has been in discussions with representatives of bus drivers over the last two weeks. A meeting with all bus drivers took place on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.
- In this meeting, the bus drivers demanded that their salary structure be identical to that of other schools that have a very high fee structure compared to DPS Budgam. This is simply not possible.
- In spite of a modest fee structure and despite not increasing fees for four years (we only received permission to increase fees this year), we have consistently given salary increments to our staff. For average staff members, salaries increased by 68% in the last 4 years. For bus drivers, the average salary increment has been 82% during this time period. While we tried to retain our staff, we were not able to complete some of the other projects that we have been trying to complete such as a swimming pool or clean internal heating in the senior school building or general improvement in the school’s facilities.
- As we have done every year, we announced the annual salary increment in April. This year’s increment has been set at 10% and applies to all staff. Unfortunately, this did not satisfy them and they have expressed their intention of not attending work.
- This is not the firsttime bus drivers have threatened to go on strike. This has become an annual affair affair and is basically a form of blackmail. We have even had situations in which bus drivers brought students to school and then refused to take them back at the end of the day. After gaining concessions, they took students home. This kind of uncertainty can lead to serious and intolerable safety concerns.
- In past years, we pleaded with bus drivers that threats of strike cause an uncertain situation for our students and they agreed not to resort to such tactics. Earlier this year, they threatened to go on strike just before school was supposed to restart after the winter vacation on Monday, March 5, 2018.
- This is an unacceptable breach of trust and wilful damage to the interests of our students and the school. DPS Budgam has given an opportunity to bus drivers to commence work and not damage academic work in an already difficult situation. In case they don’t resume work, we will make the following arrangements:
Junior School (classes UKG to 5th)
Until alternate transport arrangements are made, lessons will be delivered over Instagram. We have already shared with you account information and time table for all classes. We need your help in getting your child to join these lessons. We will address concerns of Nursery and LKG students separately. Information about Instagram lessons will be shared with you tomorrow. We expect to start these lessons on Thursday.
Senior School (6th to 12th)
We will expedite the process of getting temporary transportation arrangements for these students. This will take a few days.We will be giving advertisements in all major newspapers and initiate recruitment of new drivers immediately.We hope to restart school fully within one week.
Finally, I want to mention to you that DPS Budgam wants all of our staff to work in harmony at the school and ensure a good and safe environment for our precious students. We want our bus drivers to continue working here as part of our family. At the same time, we cannot allow threats or blackmail to derail our work or to put our students and staff at risk. This is especially true when it comes to transportation, where extra care is needed. I ask for your patience and cooperation at this time to ensure that discipline and good judgment prevail at our school. This is in the best interests of your child and in the best interests of DPS Budgam. I assure you we will make up for any time lost due to this closure.