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Following a meeting with students of the National Law University of Delhi (NLU Delhi), Delhi's Labour Minister Gopal Rai has directed the University to reinstate the Safai Karamcharis whose services were terminated last December on grounds that the agreement between the contractor and the University had come to an end.
Students of NLU Delhi had registered protest over the termination earlier this year, before the University was shut amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
After a meeting held on Monday, it is informed that the Labour Minister has issued the following directions:
The new contract signed between NLU Delhi and Rajendra Management Group (RMG) for housekeeping services is to be immediately cancelled henceforth.
The terminated Safai Karamcharis are to be reinstated by the University.
The manpower requirement of Safai Karamcharis for the University will be done as per the Public Works Department norms and shall be conducted by the Administrative Reforms Department. As soon as the assessment is done, the re-tendering process for the housekeeping services will begin.
The University is to directly pay the Safai Karamcharis until the manpower assessment and the re-tendering process is completed.
A delegation of workers' representatives comprising two students and two workers were stated to have been present at the meeting. From the University administration side, Assistant Registrar Siddharth Dahiya and Deputy Registrar SC Lather were present.
An Official Communication addressed to the University administration dated July 17 states that,
Pertinently, it adds, "In the meantime all the Housekeeping workers who were providing their services to the NLUs before the commencement of existing contract should be directly deployed and paid by the university."
In a response emailed to Bar & Bench on Tuesday, the NLU Delhi administration has stated that it cannot "assure of giving continuous employment such type of workers in the future", given that it is not a direct party to the issue. The full statement reads:
The 55 house-keeping staff, engaged under a contract with White Fox and Golden, were terminated from service in December last year. NLU Delhi entered into a contract with Rajendra Management Group (RMG) to hire around 30 new workers instead.
Earlier this year, the NLU Delhi administration denied having terminated any house-keeping staff from their end, given that the housekeeping staff members were hired by the concerned service provider.
Since the staff were not directly engaged by the University, the administration stated that there was also no requirement to give the workers any notice for termination from the University's side.
The students were prompt to counter the administration's stance, contending that the old contract under which the staff were employed was a sham.
The students also asserted that the NLU Delhi administration was bound to give the workers notice in advance, prior to their termination.
Further, they reiterated that a mandatory manpower assessment exercise was not undertaken before floating the tender for engaging a new contractor.
In the July 17 communication as well, it was also noted that the University had been unable to give any satisfactory reply when queried if the requirement of staff to be deployed for housekeeping was assessed on the basis of the PWD/Government norms.
Read the Labour Minister's order: