New Delhi: The JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) on Thursday condemned the university's circular on recovery of transport allowance from staff members who did not attend the office physically during the lockdown period, calling it "selective dissemination of administrative circulars".
In a statement, the teachers’ body demanded the university administration to acknowledge the "hard work" put in by the faculty for continuing their duty from March last year without any break or vacation between semesters and not "harass them unnecessarily".
The circular, which refers to an office memorandum issued by the department of the finance ministry on transport allowance not payable to those who did not attend office in a whole calendar month during the lockdown period, seeks details of 'physical attendance' of teaching and non-teaching staff who attended the office during March 2020 to May 2020.
"There are a number of other circulars that have been issued by the Ministry of Finance, which are of particular benefit to all employees, such as grant of advance - special festival package, or the special cash package equivalent in lieu of Leave Travel Concession dated October 12, 2020. "However, unlike the circular dealing with recovery of transport allowance, the university administration has not shown the same alacrity in dealing with matters that directly benefit all employees," JNUTA alleged.
It claimed that there are many "unexplored dimensions" to the process of working from home that the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration has chosen not to pay attention to.
For example, how the faculty had to spend from their own pockets to pay for data connectivity and paid software packages to support or the employees making do with whatever equipment they had at home to ensure that they were able to continue working online.
The teachers' association also raised the point of the faculty working throughout last year without any vacations, and how this has caused "undue stress" on them, as they have had to manage teaching and supervision online, alongside other responsibilities.
"Faculty use vacations to prepare course outlines and reading material for future classes, along with other academic responsibilities such as admission duty, assessment, syllabus revision, and training to update their skills.
"University teachers also use this time to conduct research and writing...Vacations for teachers are not holidays but they actually get more done during the vacations...Even prior to the disruptions owing to the pandemic, the current JNU administration drastically reduced the term of vacation for faculty by changing the academic calendar without any commensurate increase in the Earned Leave," it added.
On March 24 last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a nationwide lockdown for 21-days to stem the spread of coronavirus cases. It was then extended first till May 3 and then till May 17. Later, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) further extended it up to May 31.