Delhi Government has asked the National Law University, Delhi, to submit its factual report on the termination of 55 house keeping staff from the campus. In its order to the Vice Chancellor, Labour Minister Gopal Rai asked the university to clarify its position on removal of the staff in contravention of the rules set up by the university itself. The development took place after the students and the workers made a representation to the minister who instructed the university to treat the matter on "urgent priority". The students, along with the workers, have been agitating for last 40 days demanding reinstatement of the staff who have been serving the university since its inception for the last 12 years.
The agitation intensified after the students and workers observed an all night protest in front of the university gate to press for their demands. The students emphasised that the university, which is ironically teaching the law of the land, is itself breaching the labour laws with impunity. A suspended worker of the university had earlier told NewsClick that the contractor was merely paying them Rs 12,000 per month whereas the minimum wage for unskilled labourer is Rs 14,842.
A representation by the students and the workers to the ministry read, “No formal written notice with respect to termination of contract was given to the workers. In absence of any notice, w.e.f. 31-12-2019, the 55 workers were barred entry into the university. It is only then that they were informed by the Assistant Registrar and Section Officer that the university had terminated its contracts with M/S White Fox and Golden on 27.12.2019 itself."
Also read: National Law University Students up in Arms Against Removal of Housekeeping Staff
Talking to NewsClick, a student said that the university entered into an illegal contract with the new vendor, Rajendra Management Group, by reducing the existing strength of workers by more than 20%. A statement by the students' collective said, “Assuming that the university requires a minimum of 55 safai karamcharis i.e. the number of house keeping workers employed until now, no basis has been provided that why the technical bid submitted by RMG dated 24.9. 2019 for deploying 30 karamcharis would be qualified. It is important to note that RMG bid should be outrightly disqualified as it proposes more than 20 percent reduction in minimum number of safai karamcharis required...Taking into account the violations, the contract between NLUD and RMG for Safai Karamcharis stands invalid.”
Another student maintained that a summary observation of economic status of the workers suggest that 76% of the workforce consists of sole breadwinners of their families. Similarly, more than 60% workers live in rented accommodations. He said, “It is important to note that they have devoted a substantial portion of their lifetime in building and maintaining this institution. By virtue of their hard work and dedication, NLUD was ranked 3rd in MHRD’s Cleanliness Award given to higher educational institutions in the country."