A “bit too much”: Govt. college teachers’ ire at DoHE’s appeal for 1-day salary deduction
DIMAPUR, JUNE 5: At a time when Nagaland Government’s handling of COVID-19 finance is under intense scrutiny, an appeal from the Department of Higher Education to its employees to deduct one-day wage “as COVID Relief Fund to be donated to the Chief Minister’s Corpus Fund” has, quite naturally, left the State’s community of college teachers up in arms.
Citing a directive from the Minister for Higher Education and Tribal Affairs, the Director of Higher Education had issued an appeal, dated May 30, to all Principals of Government Colleges, requesting all employees of the Department to deduct one-day wage from their salary.
The Principals were requested to discuss and make the deduction from the June salary. They were also asked to provide feedback on or before June 5, to be relayed to the Minister.
“It is not about not wanting to give. All of us, we are making different contributions at our own level. Nobody wants to show off”, a college teacher at Kohima told Nagaland Page on Saturday.
Last year too, the Government had deducted one-day wage from the employees’ salary without even consulting them, the teacher pointed out.
“The Centre is giving so much money to the State Government for COVID-19. Where are they all going? There is no need for the Government to take money from us”, said the teacher.
Their situation is aggravated by the fact that salaries have been delayed while dearness allowance and arrears have been stopped since last year, the teacher pointed. “And now they want to deduct.”
When students of an entire hostel in a college in Kohima had tested positive for COVID-19, the faculty had paid for the immediate response.
“The Government may also have paid but the faculty paid for it too. In fact, I know one of the colleges in Kohima has constituted a COVID-19 fund. There could be other colleges too. So at the institutional level, we are all making contributions”, said the teacher.
Another college teacher said that the faculty was “not happy at all” with the Department’s appeal.
“Even last time, we paid. Now the Centre is giving enough money. Maximum of our colleagues are not happy. If it has to be done, it should come with individual consent, voluntary. Asking colleges to decide and inform is not right”, the teacher said.
According to a college staff at Mokokchung, the issue was the distrust around Government’s financial management.
“We don’t know where it will end up going because there is no accountability. Otherwise, helping out in times of need is not an issue”, said the person.
A college teacher based in Dimapur shared similar thoughts. “We understand it is a good thing to contribute for a good cause”, the teacher said. But deducting wage for the second year in a row ~ that too after forfeiting allowances and arrears is a “bit too much”, said the teacher.
As pointed out by another teacher, most of the students in Government Colleges ~ with few exceptions ~ are from struggling families. “We are helping them out anyway.”
Another teacher wondered why only the Higher Education staff members, out of so many Government Departments, have been asked to deduct wage from their monthly salary.
On top of that, some of the teachers said that they received the appeal only on June 5, the final day. “It reached us only today, that too as a WhatsApp forward. Not at official level. This type of attitude should not be there. Stop taking salary from the Government employees”, said a teacher.
According to one of the college teachers at Kohima, with so much ambiguity surrounding the Government’s utilisation of fund meant for combating COVID-19, it was better not to contribute to the CM Corpus Fund.
“It is better to assist in our own small ways than contribute to a Fund which has no accountability”, said the teacher.
Against the background of communities contributing and funding some Government colleges’ infrastructure development for NAAC accreditations, as per UGC directives, and the failure of the State Department of Higher Education to fulfil its financial and other obligations for the same, which was reported and editorialized by the local media, this appeal to college teachers now urgently necessitates a thorough scrutiny of this Department’s transparency and accountability.
(Page News Service)