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Visva-Bharati teachers to move HC

A view of the Calcutta High Court in Kolkata. File  

An association of teachers at Visva-Bharati is set to move the Calcutta High Court to challenge the university’s decision to deduct a small amount from employees’ salaries without their consent to carry out restoration work and for cyclone relief.

“Yesterday, we received our delayed salaries. We found that half-day’s salary of all faculty members has been deducted supposedly for renovation and repair of the Upasana Griha (prayer hall, a key attraction of the campus). This, in spite of 230 employees, including 200-plus teachers, clearly expressing their unwillingness to contribute,” a senior faculty member told The Hindu.

The Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association, or VBUFA, is now set to go to court. According to the association, the prayer hall belonged to the Santiniketan Trust, which was a separate entity from Visva-Bharati, and university employees cannot be forced to pay for its maintenance.

“We do not know which bank account the faculty members’ contribution will be accumulated and for what purpose it would be spent,” VBUFA had written in a letter to Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty on October 16, shortly after a circular was issued seeking voluntary contribution of half-day’s salary.

In fact, the VBUFA had found the circular itself to be strange because while appealing for voluntary contribution, it directed that those unwilling to contribute should intimate the authorities by email — and not the other way round.

The VBUFA, when it goes to court, will also challenge two other moves of the university. One is a similar deduction — of a day’s salary — made to contribute for relief work after West Bengal was hit by Cyclone Amphan on May 20. The other is the withholding of house rent allowance and transport allowance for employees who were not residing in the campus during the pandemic. In fact, during the lockdown, when people were expected to work from home, several of them had returned to their hometowns, only to find themselves served with show-cause notices for leaving station without permission and their salaries withheld.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 8:27:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/visva-bharati-teachers-to-move-hc/article33040843.ece

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