Published: 10th August 2020
This is a cruel decision: What's next for the contract workers of this DU hostel laid off during COVID
A total of 16 workers were sacked together on August 3. They have been given a notice period of a month but that too does not help in getting a job during a pandemic
Reena Lohat has been working as a housekeeper at the University of Delhi's Ambedkar Ganguly Students' House for Women (AGSHW) since its inception in 2003. But Reena and 15 other contract workers were unceremoniously sacked by the hostel authorities due to the shortage of funds. The termination letters had been handed over on August 3. A week has passed and the workers refused to accept the letters but the has been no formal reply from the authorities.
The workers have been knocking on the doors of the university and hostel authorities, Ministry of Labour, SC/ST Commission and the Women's Commission but in vain. AGSHW's Chairperson Suneera Kasliwal said that she is sympathetic towards the workers and they are speaking to the university and managing board about the issue. "The issue is that we do not have funds to pay for their services. We had asked the students to help us out in this but they refused to pay the fees since they are not staying here. Neither are the workers' services needed at this point. But we are sympathetic to their issues and are trying to come up with a solution," added Kasliwal.
Puran Prakash, one of the guards of the hostel, has been working here for the past five years and had planned one of his daughters' marriage on November 25. But this termination, which came as a shock, has forced him to consider other options. "We had refused to accept the letter and after a lot of discussion the authorities had told one of the guards that Saturday they will decide on something in our favour and asked us not to go ahead with any legal steps," said Prakash. "I don't know what to do now. We will be out of work from September 2 and after the future looks bleak. Who will employ us at this point when people are already getting sacked from private places?" he added.
Reena, who joined the hostel from the very first year of its establishment and has been working for 17 years, said that the decision is not just shocking but inhumane. "Every day this impasse just adds to our stress. I am the only earning member of my family and I am taking care of my mother. I don't know what to do next. I don't understand on what grounds they are terminating us at a time like this when the pandemic is raging on. This is just cruel," said Reena.