Teachers in govt. colleges denied pay for April; break due to anti-Sri Lanka protests cited

More than 1,500 teachers, employed as guest lecturers in government colleges in the State, have been denied a month’s salary. The reason cited was the closure of colleges for over two weeks in March due to protests against alleged war crimes by Sri Lanka.

The denial of salary for the month of April has disappointed many teachers, who said they were made to work for more hours in that month and in May so that the syllabus could be finished and preparations made for exams. They had to forego their pay for no fault of theirs, the teachers said.

“We did not have come to college during the two weeks in late March and early April because of protests, but after that, most of us were asked to work double shifts to complete the syllabus, and prepare students for exams,” said a lecturer in a government college.

The teachers said they were not even informed about the decision till recently. “When we didn’t receive the wages along with those for June, we took it up with some officials who told us that the salary for April was not going to be released,” said a teacher.

Guest lecturers comprise over 1/3rd of the teachers in government colleges in the State. With the increasing number of vacancies in teaching positions and delay in recruitment, almost every government college employs at least 20 guest lecturers on an average. They are paid around Rs. 10,000 – 12,000 a month. There are over 1,500 guest lecturers in 69 government colleges, and 4,000 full-time teachers.

“In places such as Ariyalur and Villupuram, every college has at least 40 guest lecturers. All of us have M. Phils and we do as much work as regular teachers, except for paper evaluation,” said a guest lecturer in a college.

The teachers said that as they are not employed full-time, there is no way they can take up the issue with college heads. A principal of a government college in the city said that the refusal of salaries to guest lecturers was an unfair move. “Over 20 such faculty work in my college and many of them helped us manage the student unrest. Thus, they were present on the campus during the protests,” he said.

Teacher unions have come out in their support. “The evening shifts of almost all colleges in the State are wholly sustained by guest lecturers. The government should be grateful to them and be a model employer,” said M. Ravichandran, vice-president, All India Federation of University and College Teachers.

Officials at the higher education department said that although guest lecturers were paid salaries for the month of April last year, the usual practice is to pay them for the academic year from June to March. They however agreed that this year, with classes being extended to April and exams held in May, the lecturers had to work for more days. “We have received representations from them and are considering their appeal,” said an official.