Published: 26th August 2021
Unpaid since May, over 600 staff of Bharathidasan University are stuck in govt-varsity red tape
The AUT President said that many teaching and non-teaching staff across colleges had to take loans to survive
More than 600 teachers and non-teaching staff of ten constituent colleges under the Bharathidasan University have not received their salary since May this year. Around 150 teachers held a protest on August 26 in front of the office of the Regional Joint Director of Collegiate Education in Tiruchy.
Six of the constituent colleges under the varsity are in Tiruchy and the other four are in Thanjavur. "There are at least 40 female teachers protesting here. Our constituent colleges were under Bharthidasan Univerisity before 2019 and later it came completely under government control," said Kanchana A, an English teacher in one of the constituent colleges who was present at the protest. "While the government is saying that the varsity is supposed to pay our salaries and later avail a refund, the university is saying it is the government's responsibility," she added.
The teachers are part of the Association of University Teachers, Tamil Nadu (AUT). MS Balamurugan, who is a member of the AUT, said, "The university is saying that there is a lack of funds and they're expecting the government to pay the fees. But the government order earlier this month clearly states that the university needs to pay the fees of the teachers until further notice."
This issue has been plaguing teachers for a while, but the apathy this time has gotten out of hand. "There was an agreement between the government of Tamil Nadu and state universities that the varsities would handle the payment of teachers and non-teaching staff until June 2020. With the recent order, this agreement shall continue until futher notice," MS Balamurugan said. However, he said that the varsity has in turn told the AUT that it is waiting for large-scale financial assistance from the government.
AUT Chairman Dr N Saravanan said, "It has been very difficult for the families of these teachers and even the non-teaching staff. Many had to take loans to sustain themselves." There are three categories of teachers— the guest lecturers, the hourly-basis teachers, and the parent-teachers association teachers. "Their job and responsibilities are the same but they all get different salaries. We want everyone to be under one umbrella,' Saravanan said.
At present, according to Saravanan, the guest lecturers receive Rs 15,000, and hourly teachers are allotted 40 hours per month and get Rs 300 per hour which translates into Rs 12,000 a month. "The salary of guest lecturers was hiked to Rs 20,000 by the government but that hasn't happened," Kanchana said. Sarvanan said, "The hourly teachers work for 60 hours monthly instead of 40 and still get paid less. They are totally exploited." The association is demanding Rs 50,000 per month salary for all the teachers.
According to the association members, PTA teachers are appointed by the principal of a specific college and their salary is only Rs 5,000. "Earlier, students were charged extra for the payment of these teachers' salaries. That has now stopped and now it is just nomenclature," MS Balamurugan said. "They are treated as the slaves of the principal. They demand job security as the principal can remove them from duty at any time," Sarvanan said.