Even though the government stresses quality education and promises equal pay for equal work, at Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, nearly 600 contract lecturers at the university staged a protest at the campus demanding the authorities raise their salaries and pay them according to the University Grants Commission (UGC) norms. The strike has been called off after the tenth day as on Wednesday.
Despite the fact that contract lecturers have been working on par with permanent lecturers, the university has not hiked the salary or given any extra benefits to contract lecturers. Most of the contract lecturers at the university are Ph.D. holders as per UGC norm. Currently, the starting salary for contract lecturers given by the university is 16,000 Rupees per month ($280) and goes up to 20,000 Rupees ($367) per month depending on the seniority. However, the contract lecturers are demanding that the minimum salary should start at 25,000 Rupees ($425) and be increased according to their seniority in compliance with the salary of the permanent staff.
“Our pay has not been increased since 2010 as per the UGC norms. We are being underpaid compared to the permanent staff in spite of putting in more work. The permanent lecturers start off with `38,000. What kind of justice is this,” they questioned.
Pointing out the clause given in the UGC norms, OU Contract Teachers’ Association president M. Tirupathi said, “The UGC recommendations clearly state ‘the fixed emoluments to be paid per month to a teacher on contract basis should not be less than the monthly gross salary of a regular appointed teacher. Every other university is going by the recommendations of the UGC other than OU, despite the fact that OU is one of the prestigious universities in the State.”
Though the university has an allotted strength of 1,200 permanent lecturers, it has only 563 permanent faculty and 567 contract lecturers.
“For 30 years, the university had 1,200 permanent faculty. However, slowly, as the faculty has been getting reduced, they are not filling the posts. Nor is it giving the senior contract lecturers a chance to become permanent faculty. Instead, they are running the show by hiring more contract lecturers and not even increasing our salary. The university has been receiving grants for the 1,200 permanent lecturers from the government; however they have only 500 permanent staff. So it is clear that the university is pocketing the money for the rest of the permanent staff and running the show with the contract lecturers,” the striking lecturers alleged.
Apart from increasing the salary, the contract lecturers also demanded that leaves should be regularised like the permanent staff. So far, except for 10 emergency leaves, contract lecturers have not been getting leaves. That apart, they also demanded for an employee provident fund to be granted and a 30 per cent increment in the salary every year, according to the recommendations of the UGC.
Though vice chancellor Dr. S. Satyanarayana was not available for comment, an aide said, “The matter has been with the State government and very soon, a decision will be taken. A committee has been appointed to address the problem. Since it is related to finance, the vice chancellor cannot take a decision of his own.”
Starting pay scale at universities for contract lecturers:
Andhra University 32,000 Rupees per month
Rajiv Gandhi IIIT 36,000 Rupees per month
Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad University 25,000 Rupees per month
Nagarjuna University 29,000 Rupees per month
Osmania University 16,000 Rupees per month