The students of National Law University, Delhi, have taken up the cause of the housekeeping staff of the University, who are alleged to have been wrongly removed from their services.
On Sunday morning, the student protestors along with workers gathered at the Main Gate of the University to peacefully express their anguish over the matter. However, the gathering was forced to disperse, after they were warned by certain Police personnel that more force would be deployed if they continued the agitation.
The Police turned down the intimation of the protest application and asked the students to follow up and take permission 7-8 days prior to the day of protest.
As per the students, the University terminated the contract with White Fox and Golden, for employment of 55 contractual workers, without any prior notice.
"The 55 housekeeping contract workers have not received any proper written notice either by their contractors i.e. White Fox and Golden or by the University, regarding the termination of their contract. All information conveyed to them has been done orally and in an unofficial manner," the Statement issued by student protestors read.
The University had issued the tender for appointment of new staff and the same was awarded to Rajendra Management Group (RMG). It has been alleged that the said tender was issued without assessing the manpower requirement; as mandated by a notification issued by the Delhi government.
The students demand 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.
"Assuming that the University requires a minimum of 55 Safai Karamcharis i.e. the number of housekeeping workers employed until now, no basis has been provided why the Technical Bid submitted by RMG dated 24.09.2019 for deploying 30 Safai Karamcharis would be qualified. It is important to note that the RMG bid should be outrightly disqualified as it proposes more than 20% reduction in the minimum number of Safai Karamcharis required," the Statement read.
Notably, the decision to replace the housekeeping staff has been taken despite the University having been ranked 3rd in MHRD's Cleanliness Award for higher educational institutions of the country.
As per the students' statement, these workers have been employed in the University since its inception, 12 years ago. They mostly (about 76%) consist of sole breadwinners, having 4 dependents on an average. In fact, one of the terminated workers is a visually impaired female housekeeping worker.
Earlier, on December 30, a meeting was held to discuss the retention of 55 housekeeping contract workers where the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Registrar, Assistant Registrar/Chief Security Officer, Section Officer, an official who had worked with the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General previously, a representative from RMG and student representatives were present.
Therein, the administration rejected the demands raised on behalf of the housekeeping contract workers and instead an oral proposal was made to retain only 10 contract workers and to assist the remaining workers in finding alternative employment.
Subsequently, the students and workers began peaceful protests on December 31, when certain Policemen, including Sub-Inspector Anuj Yadav, threatened them that if they were found in groups of 3-4 then they will be arrested and an FIR will be filed against them for violating law and order in light of imposition of Section 144 CrPC in Dwarka.
Albeit students' persuasion that the issue commanded importance as livelihood of workers was at stake, the Police asked them to approach the university and the staff contractor, instead of resorting to protests.
After the demonstrations being held on Sunday were suppressed by the Police, the student protestors rallied within the University premises, holding banners and sloganeering before the Academic Block.