The Labour Ministry of the government of NCT of Delhi has called a meeting with all the stakeholders in the matter of alleged unlawful termination of housekeeping staff of the National Law University, Delhi.
The meeting will be held at the Delhi Secretariat tomorrow, i.e. March 13, between the University, the contractor, the terminated workers and the concerned students.
The students of NLU-D have been protesting against the wrongful termination of the safai karmacharis for more than two months now.
On February 14, they met with the Labour Minister, Gopal Rai and apprised him of the situation, pursuant to which the Minister had asked the Vice Chancellor of NLU-Delhi to send a factual report on the matter, within a week.
The Ministry couldn't take prompt steps based on the VCs reply due to the recent law and order situation in Delhi. However, he has now agreed to intervene in the matter by holding talks with all the stakeholders.
The protest stems from the issue going back to December 2019 wherein 55 members of the house-keeping staff, engaged with White Fox and Golden, were terminated without any prior formal notice either from the University or the contractor, thereby purportedly violating labour laws. The University is said to have entered into a new contract with Rajendra Management Group (RMG), who had agreed to take on 10 out of the 55 terminated workers, post a meeting held with the students.
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 insist that the University should strictly comply with all labour laws and other statutory provisions.
The protest has gained support from over 600 signatories from diverse backgrounds, including prominent personalities like Shabnam Hashmi (ANHAD), Supreme Court lawyer Gautam Bhatia (Constitutional Law expert), Anas Tanwir (Indian Civil Liberties Union), and Jawahar Raja, Journalists Naomi Barton (The Wire) and Revati Laul, Professors from DU, JNU, SOAS (London), NALSAR, Ambedkar University Delhi, Jindal University, Researchers from University of Cambridge, Oxford, Sussex, TISS Mumbai, Indian Law Institute, Trade Unionists Sanjay Singhvi (TUCI) and Gautam Mody (NTUI).
The alumni of NLU-D had also issued a statement of solidarity with the protesting students and terminated workers.
The protests conducted by the students began on January 4th of this year. These workers, they claim, 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.
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