Delhi teachers asks CM to walk the talk

Salary delayed for years by Delhi government; teachers say ‘enough is enough’

It is a protest that has dragged on for years and has gathered steam in the last couple of days. Delhi teachers’ associations tell The Probe their patience is wearing thin and Delhi CM must walk the talk.

Protest by DUTA | Photo courtesy: Special arrangement

“We have not been getting salaries. We are unable to take care of our expenses. We are unable to pay the tuition fees of our children. Our medical bills are not passed. We have been suffering a lot. There are 12 colleges under Delhi University. All these colleges are facing the same problem. When we ask for our salaries, the Chairman of the governing body of these 12 colleges tells us that the colleges have student society funds, and those student aid funds can be used to pay teachers’ fees. How can we use that money to pay the fees? This money should be used for the welfare of the students,” rues Virender Singh, a Projectionist with the department of social work of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar College.

Virender Singh, a Projectionist with the department of social work of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, speaks to The Probe’s Ashutosh Dixit on the non-payment of salaries by the Delhi government.

Virender Singh is a technical staff in the college and claims that ever since the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party came to power in Delhi, he has not been getting salaries on time. “There are permanent employees, ad hoc and contractual workers, and all workers in these 12 colleges have been facing delays in payments. There have been times when there has been a delay of five and a half months in the salary disbursements,” says Virender. 

Prolonged protests. No respite for teachers

Thousands of teachers in Delhi have been protesting for months against the AAP government over the pay cut of teachers and delay in salary disbursements. Many teaching and non-teaching staff of the colleges have alleged that they have been facing the crisis for nearly five years now. 

Speaking to The Probe, Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) President AK Bhagi said that the colleges are being forced to pay the salaries of the teaching and non-teaching employees from the students’ funds reserved in the form of FDs in some colleges. The teachers have said that using this fund for payment of salaries of staff is unethical as it was collected from the students as fees for student welfare-related activities.

“This crisis has been going on for the last five years. They are forcing us to use the student activity fund to pay off the staff salaries. The UGC has clear-cut guidelines that the student activity fund cannot be used for making salary payments. The DUTA has held more than ten demonstrations in recent times. We have given complaint letters to the Chief Minister and Lieutenant Governor, but all our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. In our recent meeting, held in July, the LG forwarded our memorandum with the comments, and the government apprised DUTA that they had released the first two quarters of the money, which is incorrect. They have released only part payment, not full payment.”

Protest by DUTA | Photo courtesy: Special arrangement

Misgovernance and drastic budget cuts

The protesting teachers have alleged that the non-payment or delayed disbursement of salaries is just one of many issues. The Delhi government is accused of misgovernance, drastic budget cuts and bringing party politics into education. “Almost all the colleges that the Delhi government runs cannot pay the salaries because of fund cuts done by the government. There is a deficit in the budget, and the budget allocation for this year was even lesser than the previous year,” notes Baghi. 

The Probe spoke to Chaman Singh, the treasurer of DUTA, to understand the budget cuts that the teachers’ associations were alleging. “At the beginning of the financial year, the Delhi government approves budgets for the 12 colleges. But if you see there is a huge difference between the amount that was requested by the 12 colleges and the final amount that was approved. In some colleges, there is a deficit of one month’s instalments, while in some other colleges, it may be two months or three months. Unless the Delhi government divides the budget equally, these issues will continue. This budget problem is not only occurring this year. This has been going on for quite some time now.”

Upping the ante against the Delhi government, the DUTA recently asked the centre to take over the colleges run by the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government. The teachers claim that many families have suffered from medical issues and cannot take treatment as the medical bills are often not reimbursed. That apart, DUTA has stated that several colleges that needed immediate repairing work are in a state of collapse, a situation which they claim could easily endanger the students’ lives.

List of the 12 colleges of Delhi University fully funded by Delhi government | Source: Delhi government

Half salaries and salary cuts

Recently, one of the 12 institutions, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, had notified that the teachers could be paid only part of their salary because of a fund crunch. In the notice, the college claimed that it was withholding Rs 30,000 from the net paycheck of Assistant Professors and Rs 50,000 from Associate Professors/Professors for the month of July 2022. 

Speaking on salary cuts, Chaman Singh says that some colleges have only paid half the month’s salary to the teachers. “Why should we get our salary this way when we are working honestly? Deen Dayal Upadhyay college has given only 50% salary, and that too not for the month of August. This salary was for the month of July. So, the salary for July is 50%, for August, it is zero, and now there will be nothing in September. Is this the way the government treats educators?”

The teachers’ associations held a massive protest last week demanding one-time regulation for the absorption of the ad-hoc/temporary teachers working in the departments and colleges of Delhi University. The UGC Chairman is expected to meet the protesting associations on October 13 to discuss absorption and various other issues. 

Faulty education model 

The teachers have lashed out against the Delhi government’s much-hyped model of higher education. Sanjay Sharma, who works as an Assistant technical staff at the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, states that he received his July salary this September. “I received my salary late, and this has been going on since 2020. We are doing our duty on time, so we need our salary also on time. Who is responsible for this crisis? A government employee is dependent on the monthly salary. If the monthly salary is not received on time, everything gets affected. We have our monthly family expenditures. Some of us have senior citizens in our homes who need to be taken care of, and we have to pay monthly EMIs, medical bills, tuition fees, and so many other things. These are not private colleges. These are colleges that are 100 percent funded by the Delhi government.” 

Allegations and counter allegations 

The Delhi government has accused the 12 DU colleges of financial mismanagement and unauthorised recruitments. Several audits were conducted in the past to substantiate these allegations, but nothing concrete emerged from the audits. 

“The Delhi government has been saying that there has been pilferage and audits need to be done. Check google, and you will see the kind of charges Manish Sisodia made against those colleges. He needs to prove the charges. If the charges are proved, those responsible should pay for it but not all the working and retired employees. The teachers and other employees are not responsible for this. During the peak of Covid-19, we had to break prohibitory orders to hold our demonstrations during the lockdown. Getting paid the salary on time is a right, but unfortunately, even for this, we have to go to court. It is unfortunate,” laments Rajib Ray, former DUTA President. 

(The Probe has approached the Delhi government for responses to the allegations levelled by the teachers’ associations. This article will be updated when we receive a response from the concerned department.)

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