Published: 07th May 2022
Resolve problems of contractual workers who are on indefinite strike: JNUTA urges administration
Workers are demanding immediate payment of pending wages of three months, ensuring 26-day work duty and reemployment of retrenched workers
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers' Association (JNUTA) on Saturday, May 7, expressed concern over the continuing strike by sanitation workers at the university and asked the administration to immediately resolve their problems and to accept their "justified demands''. JNU sanitation and mess workers have been on an indefinite strike for the last four days. The workers are calling for immediate payment of pending wages of three months, ensuring 26-day work duty, reemployment of retrenched workers and ensuring that salaries are credited by the seventh of every month.
The JNU has, however, clarified that it has not removed any workers and has asked the Dean of Students Welfare, Sudhir Pratap Singh, to submit a detailed report on the matter. "The JNU VC and her administration have not removed any workers. All mess workers are being retained. Dean of Students Welfare has been asked to submit a detailed report," read a tweet on the JNU Twitter account.
In a statement, the JNUTA argued that the "discriminatory and illegal treatment" meted out to contractual workers has worsened and no serious attempts has been made by the administration to resolve the ongoing crisis. The JNUTA said it was alarmed to see that "inhuman treatment" continues unabated under the new administration. "The continuing refusal to attend to the workers' just demands also exhibits extreme callousness as it targets those very workers who had put their lives and health at great risk to selflessly serve the residents of the campus when the pandemic was at its deadliest in the summer months of 2021," the statement, signed by JNUTA President Bishnupriya Dutt and Secretary Sucharita Sen, read.
The JNUTA also accused the JNU administration of being "unconcerned" as contract workers have been paid at unbearably irregular intervals over the past few years. "Despite the fact that this is a blatant violation of the Payment of Wages Act, by which wages need to be paid by the seventh of each month, the JNU administration appears to be unconcerned about such wilful negligence by the contractor," the statement noted. They also pointed out that there had been a drastic cut in the number of workers during the lockdown period since 2020. "However, even after the campus has reopened, the number of workers has not been increased commensurate with the total workload, for both the sanitation and the mess workers. There are reports of further retrenchment of mess and sanitation workers in the hostels even as they are reaching their full capacity," the association said.
The JNUTA also condemned the 'out-of-bounds' order issued against Dr Sucheta De, former JNUSU President and the current National Vice-President of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU). "The JNUTA urged the university administration to immediately resolve the workers' problems and to accede to their justified demands," the statement read, Meanwhile, around 60 contractual workers carried out a march to the office of the Dean of Students Welfare (DoS). "The DoS is dilly-dallying and no concrete answer has been given by him. He conveyed that the salary of workers for the month of March will be credited in a few days, then he said it will be given next week," said JNUSU Secretary Madhurima Kundu.