In a blatant display of power, around two hundred contractual workers of the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), were sacked by the administration without any prior notice. The workers were reportedly caught unaware, as they were barred from making their attendance and were instead asked not come to the campus again. They were told that their services were no longer required as the administration had decided to hire a new contractor. The administration’s arbitrary decision has resulted in the agitated workers resorting to violence. Reports suggest that nearly one thousand workers including the sacked and university students came out in support of the protesting staff and raised slogans against the administration.
The sanitation workers have been protesting since July 1 in front of the department, demanding that they should be enrolled as permanent staff and be provided medical facilities and other such amenities. Later, they submitted a letter regarding the same to the administration. A students’ organisation working inside the campus, Students For Change (SFC) also came out in support of the protesting workers.
The workers alleged that the contractor of the new firm named Lion is taking bribe worth Rs 60-70,000 from workers and those giving the said amount are being hired, while the rest are being thrown out despite working for a long time.
One of the protesting workers, Raju told NewsClick, "Earlier 24 employees were working on contract basis. Five years back, a new firm named Sulabh International was given contract to hire and they hired two hundred others, including 10 supervisors but on June 30, the contract period got over. Now, the new contractor has expelled them all of a sudden, without giving any prior notice. We are left with no option, where will we go now and arrange food for our families? We will protest until our demands are met."
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Vandana, a student of IIT (BHU), who is protesting in solidarity with the workers told NewsClick,"They called off the protest yesterday midnight after the administration assured them that their genuine demands will be looked into but there was no written assurance. The administration has given this assurance because they do not want employees to hold protests inside the campus. It is a shame for the administration that in an institution like IIT-BHU, the sanitation workers are not permanent employees despite the Supreme Court’s order. It is unconstitutional to not hire contractual sanitation workers. Unfortunately, they are not paid the minimum wage and despite deducting Rs 300 from their salary, the contractors do not provide medical facility to their employees nor can their children study in BHU's school. They do not have any proof that they work in IIT-BHU.”
She further added, "IIT-BHU director PK Jain did not even bother to come to meet the sanitation workers despite passing by twice. When they approached him, he said they have been hired by the contractor so it's his responsibility not the administration’s. Meanwhile, the administration called up our parents and told them we are raising voice for the sanitation workers and if we continue, disciplinary action will be taken against us. An official from the Dean’s office even told us, ‘tumhare baap ko phone kiya hai, action liya jayega tumhare khilaf (I called up your father and action will be taken against you)’. This is the way the administration is reacting to the struggle of workers."
Rajendra Prasad, one of the sanitation workers who has been sacked, told NewsClick, "We have been working for the past five years but recently a new company came and he hired others taking money from them. The new contractor told us that we will not be allowed to continue our work for 10 days, after which we can come to duty but on the same day our supervisor threatened us not to come again for work without giving any reason. They can sack us but at least they should have informed us. Where will we go now? At a time when inflation is on an all time high, our contractor is negotiating us to work for lesser salary and saying that if we agree, we will be not sacked."