Published: 30th November 2018
After asking for a Diwali bonus, 2 sanitation workers in JNU sacked sans notice
One of the workers is the President of the workers' union and has actively participated and led movements to seek better conditions on campus
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union and Teachers' Association has condemned the administration's decision to terminate the contract of two sanitation workers without any prior notice. One of the workers is Urmila, who also happens to be the President of the All India General Kamgar Union. The students and JNUTA claim this is yet another attempt by the administration to stifle any voices that oppose their "anti- University" policies.
Urmila, has been working as a sanitation worker at JNU for the last 15 years through the company tasked with the conservancy contract, Rakshak Securities. In 2014, she became the President of AIGKU, which is affiliated to AICCTU. Under her leadership, the contractual workers have fought many battles, be it for bonuses or maternity leave for women workers or to end manual scavenging. Recently the Workers’ Union won their demand for equal pay for equal work and court-mandated JNU administration to provide them with the same pay scales and respective benefits as the permanent employees.
In another such attempt to demand worker rights, Urmila had approached the JNU administration directly to request a bonus. "Two days before Diwali, I had approached the administration to ask for a bonus. They flat out refused, so we left. Now, suddenly, they've issued a notice saying my contract will be terminated," Urmila said. In her four years as President, Urmila said that she has had to face many battles on campus and the administration has been extremely unfair to her and her colleagues.
"We need to oppose and expose the administration that believes in taking punitive action against those who raise genuine questions and concerns that promote the welfare of the University," the statement signed by President Atul Sood said.
The student union leaders claim that it is illogical that Urmila was terminated by the contracted agency because she approached the JNU administration for a bonus, which is the principal employer in this case. "The contract agency had no business issuing her a notice. It is like an employee taking an issue to the boss and the boss's subordinate firing the employee. How does that make sense? It is silly and just the administration's way of being vindictive," N Sai Balaji, the President of JNUSU said.
In their statement, the JNUTA pointed out that for years the JNU community has for long been concerned with the increasing contractualisation on campus and have been seeking a reversal of the process. "Rather than reversing the trend towards contractualisation,
Recently, the campus was up in arms against the corporatisation of their dhaba on campus, now they are fighting for their sanitation workers."When it comes to sanitation workers it's easier to oppress them because of their caste as well. We cannot let this increasing corporatisation take over the campus," Balaji added. The students have been trying to talk to the administration on this issue but are getting no response. The contracted agency is also allegedly claiming they are helpless in the matter. "We will wait for the Union to figure out their next steps and then support them in whatever course of action they choose to take," he explained.
Queries made to the agency remain unanswered.