Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami on Friday appealed to government teachers and employees to end their strike and return to work. He said the state faces financial constraints due to rehabilitation work for districts affected by Cyclone Gaja and drought-like conditions in some districts, The New Indian Express reported.

Government teachers have been on an indefinite strike since January 22. The Joint Action Committee of Tamil Nadu Teachers Organisation – Government Employees Organisation has said that 10 lakh members from 175 teachers’ unions are a part of the strike. They have demanded that salaries of secondary school teachers be increased, the contributory pension scheme be reversed and their arrears paid according to the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, The News Minute reported on Friday.

“The strike by government employees and teachers in this difficult situation is unfortunate and painful,” Palaniswami said at a public meeting to mark Language Martyrs Day in Chennai on Friday. “In fact, they are being instigated by Opposition parties, which have been making a false claim that the state government is refusing to meet the demands despite having sufficient funds.”

Palaniswami said 75% of the state’s funds are used to pay salaries and pensions. The chief minister added that the state cannot “remain a mute spectator to the problems faced by the people”, referring to those suffering because of drought and Cyclone Gaja.

The chief minister claimed that teachers are on strike despite receiving a good raise from the government. “Teachers who are on strike must think about the quantum of salary being drawn by their counterparts in the private sector,” he added.

The All India Anna Munnetra Kazhagam government has directed the school education and elementary education directors to appoint temporary teachers from the Parent Teachers Association from Monday, DNA reported on Saturday. School Education Secretary Pradeep Yadav told directors of schools that at least one teacher per school should be available by January 28.