A union of contract teachers in Jharkhand colleges has decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike from Friday to press for salaries in accordance with the guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
Sanjay Kumar Jha, the patron of Jharkhand Sahayak Pradhyapak Anubandh Sangh, on Wednesday told the media that governor Droupadi Murmu had directed vice chancellors (VC) and officials of the higher education department to ensure a respectable honorarium for contract teachers at a meeting with the VCs of state-run universities in Jharkhand.
As many as 985 contract teachers in the state serve in colleges and postgraduate departments of Ranchi University, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee University, Kolhan University, Vinoba Bhave University, Sido Kanhu Murmu University and Nilamber Pitamber University.
“In accordance with the contract, we are getting Rs 600 per class with a maximum of Rs 36,000 per month. There is a UGC guideline under which the salary of contract teachers must be on a par with the permanent ones. Though, on paper, our contract is class-specific, but we are involved in all academic and non-academic activities. We have exhausted all options to convince and persuade the government and have therefore decided to go for a hunger strike in front of Raj Bhavan,” Jha said.
The association alleged that the higher education department interpreted the terms and conditions of the contract according to its own convenience.“The class-specific payment is made to the teachers under guest faculty. As per UGC guidelines, guest faculty teachers are entitled to Rs 1,500 per class. We don’t know whether we are contract teachers or guest faculty,” he said.
BJP’s Dhanbad MLA Raj Sinha and JMM’s Baharagora MLA Kunal Sarangi had raised the issue of contract teachers during the monsoon session of the Assembly.
They demanded that the the government to pay the teachers Rs 1,500 per class and with maximum Rs 50,000 per month.However, the government claimed that they were not guest faculty and hence they were not entitled for that benefit.When the MLAs argued that the teachers should be paid on a par with the permanent teachers, the government’s reply was evasive. Ravi Kumar, a contract teacher, said they were paid less than a peon of a university or college.
“During festivals and summer vacations, universities remain closed and we have to live a hand-to-mouth existence that time. The worst thing is that the state government is defying the order of governor who had asked it to to fix a respectable honorarium for us,” he said.