Hyderabad: Unions of teachers, lecturers and non- teaching staff working in private educational institutions across Andhra Pradesh are holding a series of protests urging the state government to provide financial support by giving COVID-19 allowance. They allege that lakhs of them have not been paid salaries in the last seven to eight months.
On Wednesday, October 28, members of the Private Teachers Lecturers Union (PTLU) held a protest at Dharna Chowk in Vijayawada condemning the state government’s inaction against the private institutions for not paying salaries to their employees. “Although the government through numerous orders has appealed to the private institutions to pay wages to their staff during the lockdown, none of them were followed,” said Didde Ambedkar, state president of PLTU.
He said that the teachers' rights are being exploited while alleging that the state education department officials are being bribed by the private institutions for not checking on their exploitation of teaching and non-teaching staff.
Another teachers’ body, Private Teachers, Lecturers and Professors Welfare Association (PTLPWA) has given a protest call ‘Chalo Vijayawada’ on October 29 demanding the government to provide Rs 10,000 per month to unpaid teachers and lecturers for the period they were not paid salaries by their institutions.
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According to the teachers’ unions, there are about 5 lakh teaching and non-teaching staff in private schools, colleges, professional and technical institutes. Nearly four lakh of them have not been paid salaries in the last eight months.
Members of PTLU also claimed that at least 23 private teachers have lost their lives due to financial distress since the lockdown was imposed due to the pandemic, while four of them have died by suicide.
“As it is uncertain when the schools and colleges will reopen, the state government must take the cause of private teachers seriously and act immediately,” said Ambedkar. Suggesting several alternatives, he said that the government should provide recognition cards to the private teachers and provide zero-interest loans to the financially distressed teachers or provide other employment opportunities till the schools and colleges are reopened.
According to numerous reports, thousands of private teachers have become daily wage labourers for livelihood concerns.
“Many corporate institutions have received fees from students before February but avoided paying salaries to the teachers. Many institutions have imposed conditions on teachers to get new admissions in order to receive salaries,” stated PTLPWA in a representation to Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The body further alleged that the staff in the private medical colleges which were turned into COVID-19 treatment centres were paid only 50% salaries in the last couple of months.
The unions are also urging the state government to probe the corruption allegations in the government educational departments across the state and take action against them.
The plight of private teachers in other parts of the country has been similar since the nationwide lockdown to control the COVID-19 pandemic was imposed. In Telangana, private school teachers are holding Bharosa Yatra across the state in protest against the state government’s “negligence” towards thousands of teachers who have either lost their jobs or have not been paid salaries for the last 10 months.