Prompted by the fear of state universities being brought under the ambit of an online transfer system for employees in Haryana, teaching and non-teaching associations of a Rohtak-based university staged a protest on Wednesday. The online system is used for job posting allocation to government employees.
The demonstrating employees said there would be state-wide "unrest" among all the university employees in Haryana if the government did not roll back the decision.
Teaching and non-teaching employees at Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) wore black bands on Wednesday to register their protest against the state government's "arbitrary" decision.
Following a general body meeting on Tuesday, the staff associations have also given a call to observe a pen-down strike on August 13.
Earlier this month, the coalition government in Haryana, led by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), approved to amend its flagship online transfer policy to ensure its implementation in all the departments in the state with a cadre strength of 80 or more.
Launched in 2016, the policy for state government school teachers allowed the eligible persons to apply online for transfer by selecting the zones in order of their preference across 22 districts in the state. It was a break from the traditional way, a process which reportedly became plagued with corruption and "sifarish" raj.
The transfer policy is voluntary for employees who have completed one year of regular service in a zone and mandatory for those who have completed five years of service. The new system, showcased as a significant government reform that caught the attention of other state governments, subsequently saw other departments in Haryana coming under its cover over the years.
"Apart from the government departments, the Universities in the state will also now come under the ambit of the online transfer policy," claimed Randhir Kataria, president of MDU Non-teaching Employees Association, on Wednesday. He added that "it is not clear at all to the employees" how the transferring of staff will benefit the universities in the state.
Vikas Siwach, president of MDU Teachers Association, told Newsclick that almost 2,500 university employees staged a protest on Wednesday, among whom 350 were teachers, and 150 were those employed as guest teachers. "No one is happy with the latest order. Universities are categorised as autonomous/semi-autonomous bodies to maintain the quality of research and training in institutions of higher education," he said.
He said that if the Universities are brought under the ambit of online transfer policy, it will "adversely affect" the quality of research in the state. It would also impact the career of state students in the era of globalisation and competitiveness, added Siwach, who is also the president of Haryana Federation of Universities and Colleges Teachers Organization (HFUCTO).
Newsclick could not independently confirm whether the state universities' staff will see online transfers or not. However, an order issued by the Manohar Lal Khattar-led state government in November last year had directed the data of all the employees in state universities, among others, to be uploaded on the Human Resource Management System (HRMS).
Linking the government's move to the purpose of implementing the online transferring system in universities, the HFUCTO had raised concerns about it back then.
Sabita, general secretary of Sarv Karamchari Sangh – Rohtak district, told Newsclick that the state government employees' body was in solidarity with the university employees against the contentious decision. "There are too many vacancies in the state universities. The government must focus on filling up those rather than making transfers," she said.
Ahead of Wednesday's protest, the MDU staff associations also submitted a memorandum to the university Vice-Chancellor. "… it is a humble request that the non-teaching staff union and teachers union are called for talks and no hasty decision is taken on the issue," the memorandum, seen by Newsclick, read.
On Wednesday, Kataria of MDU Non-teaching Employees Association said that meetings with other state university teaching and non-teaching associations would be held in the coming days. "There will be unrest among the university staff across the state if the decision is not rolled back," he told Newsclick.