Unpaid, underpaid, laid off: Andhra teachers protest by selling fruit on the streets

Teachers have demanded that the state government must enforce its orders to schools to pay salaries, or provide direct relief, as many of them are suffering due to the pandemic.
Teachers protest in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh
Teachers protest in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh
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Private teachers in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur staged a unique protest on Sunday, selling fruits, tea and footwear to protest unemployment and delayed salaries. Since the COVID-19 lockdown came into force in March, many teachers working in private schools across the state have been forced to look for alternative jobs, including daily wage labour, in order to make a living.  

Several private school teachers who have continued to suffer since the onset of the pandemic came together in Guntur, demanding support from the state government. A three-day protest was held in front of the Guntur District Collector’s office. The Private Teachers, Lecturers, Professors Welfare Association (PTLPWA) of Andhra Pradesh has demanded financial assistance for affected teachers from the state government. 

The YSRCP government, as part of its welfare programmes (Navaratnalu), has been providing annual financial assistance to members of various communities and professions. These schemes provide support for auto drivers (Vahana Mitra), weavers (Nethanna Nestham), tailors, dhobis (Rajaka community), and barbers (Nayee Brahmin community under the Chedodu scheme). 

Expressing support to the teachers’ demands on behalf of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), former Minister Nakka Anand Babu asked, “Is there no place for private teachers in the relief packages from Union and state governments?”

Burugu Srinivas, state president of the PTLP Welfare Association, said that teachers have failed to receive support from both the government as well as private schools and colleges, being run as ‘corporate’ institutions. “The government cannot wash its hands of the matter by merely issuing an order asking schools to pay salaries. They must make efforts to ensure that the orders are enforced,” he said. 

While several teachers have lost their jobs, many others have continued to teach without receiving their salaries on time, or having faced pay cuts. Stating that their job of continuing to educate children amid the pandemic has been immensely important, along with COVID-19 frontline workers, teachers’ constituency MLC AS Ramakrishna called for the state government to support teachers in their struggle. 

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