In the matter of alleged unlawful termination of housekeeping staff of the National Law University, Delhi, Labour Minister of the Delhi Government, Gopal Rai has directed the University to reinstate all the 55 safai karmcharis.
As per a statement issued by the student protestors, a meeting between the Labour Ministry and all the stakeholders was convened on Monday whereby the following directions were given:
"1. The contract signed between the National Law University Delhi (NLUD) and Rajendra Management Group (RMG) for housekeeping services be immediately cancelled henceforth.
2. The former 55 Safai Karamcharis be reinstated by the University. The University is supposed to directly pay the Safai Karamcharis until the below mentioned manpower assessment and the retendering process is completed.
3. Manpower requirement of Safai Karamcharis for the University will be done as per the Public Works Department norms and shall be conducted by the Administrative Reforms Department. As soon as the assessment is done, the retendering process for the housekeeping services will begin."
However, the University administration "firmly maintains" that there was never any 'wrongful' removal of any worker and the present contract is perfectly lawful.
It has claimed that it is not a direct party in this issue as the matter is between the workers and the contractor, and therefore it cannot assure of giving continuous employment to such type of workers in the future.
"Retention or non-retention rests with the Contractors as per the terms and conditions of the contract. The University merely subscribes services and not workers hence this matter pertains to the contractor who incidentally did not attend this meeting" the University told LiveLaw.
The University further said that half of the total workers presently in the University belong to the previous group only hence often touted '55 workers' phrase is untrue. Further, the Contractor has offered all the remaining workers to give employment within a radius of 5 km.
The students of NLU-D started an agitation on January 4 this year against termination of the contract with White Fox and Golden which resulted in the disengagement of 55 contractual workers, without any prior notice.
The University entered into a new contract with Rajendra Management Group (RMG), whose tender, as per the students, was allegedly passed without assessing the manpower requirement as mandated by a notification issued by the Delhi government.
The students had been demanding 100% retention of all old contractual workers and seek that the new contract with RMG be cancelled. Reminding the University administration that saving manpower beyond 20% amounts to exploitation, the students insisted that the University should strictly comply with all labour laws and other statutory provisions.