New Delhi: Many among the guest faculty at Delhi University (DU) colleges have not been paid their dues — including compensation for teaching classes and examination duty — for a year.
The guest faculty members had been employed by the Non-Collegiate Women’s Education Board (NCWEB) to teach at its 20 centres spread across colleges affiliated to DU. The NCWEB classes are meant for working women and girls who cannot attend regular college. Most of these classes are taught by guest faculty members.
The NCWEB faculty teach approximately 25 classes per semester, of four-six months duration each. But since the beginning of the pandemic last year, the number of classes taught have increased, because the faculty, which usually taught only on weekends, have been taking classes on other days of the week too, the faculty members said.
The DU administration claimed that they are yet to receive the bills from colleges and payments are pending since many among the administrative staff are unwell — and consequently all paperwork has been delayed.
ThePrint reached NCWEB Director Geeta Bhatt over phone call and text messages, but there was not response till the time of publishing of this report.
Those waiting for their dues, meanwhile, said they are struggling to make ends meet. The disgruntled teachers have also started a social media campaign to highlight their condition. But nothing has been done about their situation yet, they said.
The DU is not unused to protesting faculty members. Non-payment of dues has been a grievance for the teaching staff in the past too.
In 2019, the university’s ad-hoc teachers had fought a long battle with the DU administration. Nearly 4,500 ad-hoc teachers at the university had gone on a strike then. Following their absence from duty, many were not paid salaries for months. The teachers were finally assured that their demands will be heard and the matter is being considered by the executive council of the university.
In March this year, teachers from colleges funded by the Delhi government also protested against the non-payment of their salaries. Some teachers later told ThePrint that their dues had been cleared.
‘Had to borrow money to take a bus to college’
Guest faculty members awaiting payment of their salaries and other dues, said they have not only reached out to the administration repeatedly, but have also been running an online campaign on Twitter, since January this year, using the hashtag #DU_प्रशासन_वेतन_दो.
While there’s been no response from the administration on social media, some among the university’s teaching staff have shown support for the protesting faculty members.
There’s been no progress in the matter, however.
Guest faculty members, awaiting payment for more than a year now, say that they are almost completely dependent on their earnings from here, as they cannot teach in regular colleges, while they are associated with the NCWEB.
The delayed payments have therefore resulted in extreme financial difficulties for them,
“There have been days when I have had to borrow money from friends to take a bus to go to the college and teach,” said Suraj Raw, a guest faculty members at Rajdhani College. “Payments for the January-May 2020 and October-December 2020 semesters, have not been cleared.”
In January 2019, UGC had revised the pay for guest faculty from Rs.1,000 to Rs.1,500 per class, but the same was not approved for NCWEB teachers by the executive council of DU by then. It was only in 2021 that the EC has agreed to accept the revised rates and pay the guest faculty accordingly, said Raj Kaithwar, a guest faculty at Miranda House college
Kaithwar too said that he has not been paid dues for two semesters.
“If we add the amount due to each faculty, it would come to Rs. 1,75,000. This excludes payment for invigilation duties and checking examination answers,” said Kaithwar, adding, “I have been able to manage because I live with my family. But there are many among us who are on their own here. How will they manage?”
Most of those who teach as guest faculty members at the NCWEB centres are research scholars. Their one other source of income is the stipend that they receive from the university as scholars.
Bhawna Singh, who also works as guest faculty at a DU college, questioned the way guest faculty members are treated by DU administration and said that little attention is paid to their demands.
“We have worked as hard as the regular faculty. Then why is it that there is no respect for us, no value? Do they expect us to survive on air instead of food? Do we do not have bills to pay?”
Delayed by pandemic
The Delhi University administration, meanwhile, said that payments have been delayed because of the pandemic, as many among the administrative staff and faculty members across colleges are not well.
“The salary for NCWEB guest teachers depends upon when the colleges submit the bills to us at the university,” said Balram Pani, dean of colleges, DU. “Colleges have been delayed in the process this year because of the pandemic…many administrative staff are not coming to college, many are not well, so it has been very difficult to manage things.”
He added that the university has already issued instructions to colleges to expedite the process. “As soon as we receive the bills from colleges, salaries will be released within a week,” he added.
Angry guest faculty members, however, accused the university of “working at a snail’s pace”.
“They [the university] have no regard whatsoever for the concerns of the guest faculties. Many of us are in serious financial distress because of this. A pandemic is raging and they have not even communicated to us when our dues will be cleared,” said another guest faculty member, who did not wish to be named.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)