The contractual staff of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has been waiting for salaries for two consecutive months at a time when the country is preparing itself for festivities. The workers hired by recruitment consultant Bedi and Bedi Associates allege that they were met with deafening silence over the payment of salaries by both the university administration and the consultant and were left in the lurch at a time when they needed their hard-earned money the most.
Chhotu Singh (changed name), who works as a computer operator at the School of Social Sciences in JNU, told NewsClick that it was the first time in his service tenure of five years that the salary was stopped without any prior information. He said, “Nobody gave us a specific reason for the delay in salaries. For a normal lower middle-class person like me, it was a sudden blow. Who do you turn for help at a time when people are less willing to lend money. My father undergoes dialysis twice a week. My mother is diabetic and needs medicine regularly. Caring for them requires money. The most humiliating part of the story is that the consultant did not pick up the phone. I literally had to beg for help.”
Another employee who did not wish to be named said, “I consistently live in anxiety for the reason that any lender can make frantic calls to me and ask for money. It is almost three months since I have not had any money in hand or account. How do you meet the daily expenses in such a scenario? I hear my colleagues speculating over the possibilities of getting the salaries. But life does not run on speculations. I know many colleagues who live in rented quarters in nearby areas and they are being hounded by their landlords.”
The university is expecting the salaries to be cleared by Dussehra. Pramod Kumar, Registrar of JNU, told NewsClick, “You must know that the contractual staff is not directly linked to the university. We pay to the vendor and the vendor pays them in advance for one month.” Speaking about several issues encountered by the university regarding the contractual staff, Kumar said, “The staff was unable to mark their attendance regularly. It resulted in delay in the calculation of working days. Second, the vendor has been submitting bills in the wrong format and informed us that their employees have been infected with the coronavirus. We reproved them for their conduct. No employee should be deprived of salaries especially ahead of festivities. I expect that the payment will be released before Dussehra itself.”
NewsClick tried contacting the officials at Bedi and Bedi Associates but no got no response.