We need help now: After several colleagues lose battle to COVID-19, DU profs ask VC for COVID emergency fund

The professors want a fund for the ad-hoc teachers and guest faculty along with long term changes that will improve working conditions
Delhi University (Pic:PTI)
Delhi University (Pic:PTI)

The teachers of the University of Delhi have written to the acting Vice-Chancellor of the varsity, Dr PC Joshi, for a separate COVID-19 emergency fund that will help ad-hoc and guest teachers tide over the current crisis. This comes after the Delhi University Teachers Welfare Fund (DUTWF) has promised financial assistance to permanent and ad-hoc teachers in its latest notification which also asks teachers and the respective colleges to pay pending membership amounts and proposes increasing the membership from Rs 50 to Rs 100.

The letter to the VC, initiated by Dr Apoorvanand, Department of Hindi, Dr Satish Deshpande, Department of Sociology and Dr Abha Dev Habib from Miranda House, has been signed by around 600 teachers. "We have lost a number of colleagues to the second wave of COVID 19. Amongst them are also ad-hoc and guest teachers. The petition seeks the generation of COVID-19 Emergency Fund through the contribution of one day's salary in order to provide financial assistance to ad-hoc and guest teachers. We have over 4500 ad-hoc and 3000 guest teachers in the university," said Dr Habib, who is also the Treasurer of the DU Teachers' Association (DUTA).

Medical expenses and loss of working members (in some cases, sole earning member) have created issues of livelihood for families, said the teachers. "The service conditions of ad-hoc and guest faculty do not provide them medical benefits or compensation to families in case of death," said Dr Habib, explaining why a separate appeal has been made. "The DUTA has already demanded that provisions of Teachers' Welfare Fund (TWF) should be extended to the ad-hoc teachers including compensation to families in case of death. DUTA has also written to the UGC and MoE for compensation for families in case of COVID deaths," she added. DUTA had asked for Rs 2.5 crore for families that have lost someone.

Dr Habiab added that it is unfortunate that no real steps have been taken by the UGC or MoE even as teachers across universities have lost lives. The teachers also feel that there is a need for long-term solutions in the form of steps to make ad-hoc teachers permanent after a point of time and give the contract workers similar benefits as permanent staff. Permanent jobs should be the aim, said Dr Habib. "And this can't be a ten-year plan. This needs to be done now," she added. DUTA had been protesting for the ad-hoc teachers and asking the university to give them benefits and make them permanent for the past two years. 

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