Contractual Sanitation Workers at JNU Protest Unfair Labour Practices

Denial of Legal Minimum Wages, Salary Slips, 'Equal Pay for Equal Work,' and Maternity Benefits Under Vice-Chancellor Dhulipudi Pandit
The workers met the Assistant Labour Commissioner and presented a detailed complaint outlining several pressing issues.
The workers met the Assistant Labour Commissioner and presented a detailed complaint outlining several pressing issues.

New Delhi- Contractual sanitation workers at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) took a bold stand, staging a protest demonstration at the office of the Central Labour Commissioner at Shrameva Jayate Bhavan in Dwarka. Led by a delegation comprising Urmila Chavan, a former sanitation worker at JNU, Anju Kumari, Sucheta De, and Suvarna Swain, JNU AICCTU office bearers, the workers on Monday, met the Assistant Labour Commissioner Rajnish Sangwan and presented a detailed complaint outlining several pressing issues.

These included the denial of legal minimum wages, lack of salary slips, arbitrary retrenchments, non-regularization of long-serving contractual workers, violation of the 'Equal Pay for Equal Work' order, and the denial of maternity benefits to women workers, among other concerns.

The workers said that despite being a central university, JNU does not pay them according to minimum wages fixed by the central government.
The workers said that despite being a central university, JNU does not pay them according to minimum wages fixed by the central government.

The issues worrying the sanitation workers

Denial of Legal Minimum Wages in JNU- The workers said that despite being a central university, JNU does not pay them according to minimum wages fixed by the central government. The contractual Sanitation Workers are its biggest sufferers. According to Minimum Wages Act, making anyone work below the level of stipulated minimum wages is called 'forced labour' and the employer is responsible for such violation.

Denial of Salary Slip- The workers alleged they are being denied of their basic rights of getting salary slip every month. Thus, the service provider as well as JNU is depriving the workers of relevant information regarding deductions from their wages.

Random Retrenchments and Denial of Right to Get Regularised- Retrenchment of contractual workers at whims and fancies of the administration and service provider in complete violation of law of the land continues. Despite working for decades, the contractual workers are being denied of their legal rights of getting regularised.

Order of Equal Pay for Equal Work Issued by the Office Dy CLC Continue to be Violated- The office of the Deputy Central Labour Commissioner had issued an order of Equal Pay for Equal Work in 2018 for contractual workers of JNU, thereby directing JNU to pay the contractual workers at par with permanent workers on the same post. JNU continues to violate the order till date thereby stealing lakhs of rupees of hard earned wages of the workers.

Even with a woman serving as Vice-Chancellor, JNU finds itself ensnared in a disheartening contradiction.
Even with a woman serving as Vice-Chancellor, JNU finds itself ensnared in a disheartening contradiction.

Despite the institution being led by a female V-C, the denial of maternity benefits to women contractual workers starkly exposes a disconnection between professed values and the reality on the ground. In a recent distressing incident, a woman contractual staff, exercising her rightful leave under the Maternity Benefit Act, faced the added blow of JNU refusing to provide wages for the leave period.

Compounding this injustice is the ominous specter of union-busting tactics, creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation for contractual workers daring to assert their rights. JNU, in conjunction with the service provider, reportedly resorts to threats whenever workers advocate for fair treatment. Shockingly, the administration's response to the union's push for rightful dues has been punitive, with AIGKU JNU President Urmila Chavan and Secretary Sucheta De being barred from entering the campus.

In the heart of an academic institution that should exemplify fairness and equality, the suppression of workers' rights raises crucial questions about the commitment to justice, especially for the most vulnerable in the workforce.

The AICCTU has intimated JNU several times about the continued violation of workers rights in JNU. Despite this, the violations continue unabated.

The delegation briefed the ALC about unabated violation of workers rights in JNU and demanded immediate action.

The ALC has assured the delegation to initiate steps to ensure implementation of minimum wages and other labour laws in JNU.

If appropriate steps are not taken within 15 days, AICCTU will intensify the struggle to ensure that the apathy towards workers rights by the labour office, JNU VC and contractors no more sustains.

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