The pending salaries and pensions of teachers in municipal corporation-run schools in the national capital must be paid within the next 15 days, the Central Administrative Tribunal’s (CAT) Delhi bench directed the civic bodies in an interim order on Monday, June 15.
As many as 8,000 teachers of 714 schools run by North Delhi Municipal Corporation (North MCD) have accused the corporation of not paying them salaries since three months. Similarly, teachers of East MCD have also claimed of not being paid for the month of May, NewsClick has learnt.
Both the corporations, in addition to the South MCD, are controlled by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
On hearing the miscellaneous application filed by Ram Nivas Solanki, general secretary of the MCD Teachers’ Association – an umbrella body of all teachers’ associations – through video conferencing, the tribunal bench, that adjudicates service matters in connection to public affairs, ordered to clear the pending dues.
“The CAT court has ordered the municipal corporations to pay teachers their salaries, pending for months now. We are hopeful that the interim order will resolve the issue for now,” Solanki told NewsClick, adding that in case it is not followed, the teachers’ association will approach the High Court.
Those who are covered under the directions also include the teachers of all categories employed on contractual terms across the three municipal corporations, who are to receive their salaries till May 10, after which their contract period was not extended.
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The interim order, that is being termed as “relief” for thousands of teachers, who are also engaged in the Delhi government’s food distribution drive amid the COVID-19 pandemic, came on the eighth day of the hunger strike, started by teachers associated with North MCD on Monday last week.
The strike has been continuing till date at over 200 schools coming under North MCD’s administration. Consequently, distribution of dry rations have been stopped at these centres.
“The teachers here have received their last salary of the month of February in April.We will continue the hunger strike till we receive our payments for the months thereafter,” said Kuldeep Khatri, president of Shiksha Nyaya Manch Nagar Nigam. His health condition had already worsened and his temperature was recorded at 102 degree Celsius while he spoke to NewsClick.
Saying that such delays in salaries are “not new”, Khatri added, “until someone dies, nothing will happen.” Calls made to North MCD mayor Avtar Singh went unanswered.
Khatri’s taunt bears weight to the recurring problem of lack of funds for workers employed by the municipal corporations in the capital, gripped among others, within a political tussle between the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government and BJP-controlled civic bodies in the recent years.
A week earlier, more than 350 resident doctors of two hospitals – Kasturba Hospital and Hindu Rao Hospital – administered by North MCD, threatened mass resignations over pending salaries for the last three months. Similarly, last month, news emerged of unpaid dues to nearly 27,000 sanitation workers employed, again by the north corporation.
In both the cases, as in that of teachers, the civic body blamed the Delhi government – for not releasing the funds – behind the financial debacle. To this, the AAP leaders have maintained that the dues to the corporations have been cleared till May.
“It is very unfortunate that issues of corporations in Delhi only add to political battles. Amid this, often we, the employees, are made to be the ‘soft targets’,” Khatri told NewsClick.
Inevitably, in times of a pandemic-triggered lockdown, the patience of these employees could not hold further. The employees, who are being hailed as “corona warriors” by the powers that be, had alleged that owing to the fund crunch and the subsequent political clash surrounding it, even their safety on duty has been compromised.
While the virus has caught doctors and nurses in municipal corporation-run hospitals, teachers and sanitation workers, have also reported succumbing to death due to COVID-19 in the recent past – suggesting laxity on the part of the administration.
Alleging “diversion of funds” by civic authorities, Solanki of MCD teachers’ association told NewsClick that their body will launch a campaign to move the administration of corporation-primary education to Delhi government. “We are waiting for these difficult times to end after which we will take this issue up,” he said.
On a similar note, social jurist Ashok Agarwal called the non-payment of salaries an “utter nonsense”. Calling both AAP and BJP at the corporation-level “irresponsible”, he further opined that the central government, in the interest of the workers, must “take interest” in resolving the matter at the earliest.