DU Guest Teachers Protest Against Not Being Paid in Full During the Pandemic

The guest faculty of the University of Delhi’s Non-Collegiate Women’s Education Board (NCWEB) have alleged that the administration has not paid them their full salary since 2019. While they continue to take online classes amid the raging pandemic, they say there is no clear word from the administration with regard to their payment.

The guest faculty teachers of NCWEB teach at its 20 centres, across colleges affiliated to DU. These are not regular classes but are meant for working women and girls. The guest teachers of NCWEB are hired on a contractual basis and are not officially represented by the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA). Amid the lack of representation, the guest teachers have formed their own teachers’ association.

Arti Rani Prajapati, the president of the guest teachers’ association, explained the problems they have been facing. “We have not been paid fully for September-December 2019 session. We have not been paid for checking answer sheets. We are never paid on a monthly basis, in fact we don’t know when we will be paid – there is no fixed time and there is no place where we can inquire easily. We want a monthly system of payment and not yearly.”

Not paid since 2019

“If we are taking classes despite the lockdown, why can’t they pay us at this time? Can they also stop the payment of the permanent teachers at DU’s regular colleges in the name of pandemic?” Prajapati added. She also alleged that the payment process for the NCWEB guest faculty takes place in an offline mode despite the ongoing pandemic.

According to her, in 2019, the University Grants Commission (UGC) increased the salary of guest teachers from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 per lecture. However, that year, they (NCWEB teachers) were paid only Rs 1,000 per lecture for the September-December session. So the university, she says, also has to pay them the remaining Rs 500 per lecture for the semester in 2019.

During this time, Prajapati also contracted COVID-19. “A lot of us work here because of the financial crunch, but when the administration doesn’t pay us for 10-12 months, it becomes difficult to make ends meet, especially for those from outside Delhi.”

Not paid for checking answer sheets

Ravi, a former guest faculty teacher who has not been paid from December 2020 to March 2021, highlighted another major demand of the guest teachers. He said that they have not been paid for checking the answer sheets of the students from September 2019.

“A teacher is supposed to be paid Rs 25 to correct one answer sheet. They said they will pay us at the rate of  Rs 10 per answer sheet due to lack of funds. But we have still not received it,” added another teacher who is working since 2019.

Ravi said that there is no recognition of guest teachers in DU. “Probably that is the reason that we do not get an answer and our demands are never met,” he said. He further explained that they submit the bills on time, but sometimes the files are stuck in the college, sometimes the finance department and sometimes they are told that the budget has not been allotted.

Twitter campaign

Years of non-payment and no accountability from administration have forced the guest teachers to run Twitter campaigns. They have started Twitter campaign under the hashtag ‘DU Prashasan Vetan Do’ (#DU_प्रशासन_वेतन_दो). However, it hasn’t yet compelled the administration to give a public statement about the same.

Nevertheless, after three campaigns, the guest teachers received one mail from the NCWEB director Geeta Bhatt’s office stating that “bills of January to May 2020 has been processed to DU’s finance department”. The statement added that many centres like Moti Lal Nehru and Maharaja Agrasen have received their payments. “Due to health issues, Section Officer NCWEB was on long leave and now monitoring the situation. These arrears bills of Rs 500 for the first term 2019-2020 are under process at NCWEB and soon these bills will be sent to the finance department for payment,” the statement received on May 27 stated. However, Bhatt or her office did not respond to the mail sent by the writer seeking a response on the issue.

On this, Prajapati responded, “After we started the Twitter campaigns and few media portals started covering the issue, some colleges have released payments. She shared a list of 15 colleges where payment have been released. However, many teachers from these colleges said that payment has been sanctioned but they haven’t received it till now.”

They have also written to the vice chancellor enumerating their demands.

When asked why a lot of guest faculty teachers do not want to make a noise despite being a part of Twitter campaigns, Ravi and Prajapati explained that no one wants to lose the job or come under the scanner of the administration. “Many of us are not from Delhi, some have to submit their thesis, some are still waiting for their PhD admissions – we do not know in what way the administration will intimidate us, so the fear is real,” Ravi said. “This job is not permanent and our contract can be terminated at any time in the name of interdisciplinary action.”

Word from the administration

Speaking to the Indian Express, Rajeev Gupta, chairman of NCWEB had said,

“There is no financial problem that the university is facing. We have had a meeting with the joint financial officer to expedite the payment. The process is progressing at a slow pace because of frequent lockdowns and curfews across the country owing to the pandemic. Since all the colleges have to submit their respective bills, it can take some time to process all the payments and the COVID-19 crisis is an added factor. We are trying to clear the dues by the end of April 2021.”

Another guest teacher who taught at Moti Lal Nehru college in the last semester, said that the finance department also told them that they would receive their payment by April 2021. “June is here, when the unlock begins, we will again go to college and ask if there is any progress,” she added.

Navashree Nandini is a journalist, with keen interest in elections, education and foreign affairs.

Featured image credit: PTI