In light of the concerns raised by Delhi University (DU) students and the responses given by the DU Teachers’ Association (DUTA) members, ad-hoc teachers have taken to social media to voice the various pressures under which they work. Here are a few of them:
1) An ad-hoc’s services can be terminated without giving any reasons on a day’s notice. And that this happens more frequently than you might think.
2) An ad-hoc is given, at least, one day’s break in their teaching term every four months, so that they cannot claim seniority as the years pass (called as a breakinservice). In some prestigious colleges like Lady Shri Ram College for Women, ad-hocs used to be given about a four-day break each time. This is not just the loss of valuable teaching experience but more immediately the loss of about 7000 rupees, almost a month’s rent for most of us: all this while taking classes and doing other work, by the way. Colleges have no rational way of explaining this longish break but would encode it as a technicality (probe a bit and they’re dry) or simply a shake of the head. A worthy colleague got it best when they described it as the authority’s “way of testing our loyalty”. Loyalty. Yup you read it right. Ouch.
3) Ad-hocs are never a part of workload distribution meetings even if they are being retained in the next semester. They are generally given the last leftovers to teach irrespective of whether they know or like, or have even read those texts. It is ironical because they are suddenly supposed to be experts at everything that is being taught. Of course, you cannot say that we do not know this text, because well, it is an unspoken truth that thou art an ad hawker, hawking pedagogy on your little needy cart.
4) If a student asks ad-hoc for a Letter of Recommendation (LoR), the college might refuse to give them a letterhead!
5) Ad-hocs can be replaced on the basis of formal and informal student feedback. Now this informal student feedback is a funny thing. Students are made to confide in some permanent member of the department or administration – among other things, problems like extra classes! However no amount of negative feedback on non-ad-hocs can affect them.
6) Here’s shedding some light on a sword that hangs on ad-hoc necks the year round. – ‘Summer Salary’
Ad-hoc teachers are appointed semester-wise on a four month contract (Yup. It’s monthly wage earning!) They are summoned for evaluation work without being officially on payrolls in December and, of course, June and July, with reports being sent to colleges in case they do not go: so much for their technical right to refuse evaluation. However, due to DUTA’s struggles over the years, ad-hocs are now paid their salaries for the months of June and July but there is a huge rider, enforced with tantric precision on this: the summer salary is paid if they are employed on the last day of the May semester and the first day of the July semester. Now, it might sound alright to some worthies, but here are certain loopholes to the ‘summer salary’:
i) Ad-hoc teachers employed against a permanent teacher’s leave vacancy are most vulnerable as most teachers on leave for almost the entire even semester return and join service a week (sometimes a day) before the last day. Teaching and other activities of the college are over by now: so they join to basically save their leaves, a practice absolutely within their legal rights. However, the psychotic obsession with THE last day means that an ad-hoc who has taught and laboured for one full semester AND performs evaluation duties in the summer months will lose the significant sum of their summer salary even if they are employed in the odd semester in July.
ii) Some colleges follow another weird rider, that the ad-hoc must have been employed, not just on the last day of the May semester but also the first day of the semester in January. That’s another way of saying, ‘screw-you’ ad-hocs.
iii) For whatever reasons, interviews for ad-hoc appointments are often held after the semester has already begun, depriving the ad-hocs the first day appointment, even if they have helped with admission duties and Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) trials in the college they are being ‘retained’ in.
iv) Summer salary does not arrive till the month of October, some times even November. Till then, ad-hocs must exhaust their meagre savings. Of course, to even say that no interest etc., is paid for the late payment is hubris. Besides, colleges are so proper, that often, no Teaching Assistant (TA) is paid in the summer salary even if they have travelled for all kinds of duties in the college.
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