New Delhi: The JNU administration has threatened to cut pay for teachers who participated in a strike called by the JNU Teacher’s Association (JNUTA) on January 17. In a circular signed by the registrar, dated January 19, the administration has asked the faculty members who participated in the strike to inform the administration about their involvement via email by January 29.
A copy of the circular was sent to The Wire by the JNUTA. It read,
“Under the principle of ‘No Work, No Pay’ such faculty member(s) who had participated in the strike would not be paid pay and allowances for the day of the strike. It is proposed to take action against those faculty members who participated in the strike on 17.1.2017 under the provisions of FR 17(a) along with all its attendant consequences.”
It goes on to say that the faculty members will be allowed to defend themselves before the administration before they face the consequences. However, Nandita Narain, president of the Federation of Central University Teachers’ Associations, told the Telegraph that the provisions cited by the administration for the pay-cut, which is applicable in case of unauthorised absence or disruption of work, does not apply to universities.
In their email, JNUTA also wrote clarifying that the ‘no work, no pay’ principle has not been applicable in universities because time lost on strikes or for other academic events is made up by taking extra classes.
The JNUTA had organised a strike on January 17 to protest against administrative high-handedness in making academic decisions for the university. Undermining the democratic ethos of the institution, the JNU vice-chancellor, M. Jagadesh Kumar had conducted the 142nd academic council meeting during the holidays in the absence of several members of the council. Other allegations included a lack of transparency and debate in the decision making process. Central to the disagreement between the JNUTA, the students and the administration was the hurried manner in which the UGC regulations from May 2016 were declared passed by the vice-chancellor. This was despite the fact Kumar had previously promised to approach the UGC on its new guidelines on MPhil and PhD admissions which the JNUTA and the student body thought would be discriminatory because it placed more weightage on viva-voce.
The vice-chancellor had since repeatedly ignored the JNUTA’s appeal for dialogue, choosing instead to respond with threats and disciplinary action to quash dissent. Renowned scholar Nivedita Menon was issued a warning by the university to not hold public lectures.
As a consequence, JNUTA organised a second public lecture series in protest, which began on January 18. These lectures have been hugely popular in the past when Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were arrested on charges of sedition. The Hindu reported that the second one, titled, ‘Democratising Social Justice’ saw a similarly full audience in its project to reclaim the shrinking space for debate in the university.