The workers were forced to release a public appeal for help after the hostel authorities decided to discontinue their payments/salaries, instilling distress in these already trying times.
On July 27, workers of Ambedkar Ganguly’s Student’s House for Women, Delhi University, publicly released an appeal for help as the hostel authorities decided to cease their payments/salaries.
Even during the ongoing pandemic, the workers of Ambedkar Ganguly Student’s House for Women, which constitute of women belonging to Scheduled Caste, a seven-month pregnant woman and other workers who have been working there for many years now, continued to provide their services. Despite the risk of getting infected, they had to prioritize work in order to survive and feed their families. The workers had been working on a contractual basis and the contract was given in the month of July itself. Still, the hostel authorities – Warden, Provost, Chairperson, and Resident Tutor; suddenly decided to halt the payments to the workers. The reason given was that the residents/students are not paying their fees and consequently, there are no funds to pay the salaries.
The workers have claimed in their appeal that this is caste and class based harassment. As they do not belong to the privileged section of the society, this callous decision of the authorities has put all their futures in doom, which already appears bleak for countless people in view of the pandemic. It is already difficult for some of them to survive on the current salary and this move has emerged as an additional burden.They have called it a breach of human rights as their loyal services, some as long as 15 years, have fetched them nothing but wrath and indifference of the privileged few.
In their appeal they have also called out the reason given to them for non -payment. They have stated that first of all, students were forced to vacate the hostel and secondly, students have been allowed to come back and stay, if they can produce a ‘No Corona Certificate.’ But this information has not been passed on to the students, because of which students were stuck in Delhi.
All their lives, the workers have stated, they have fought various battles of poverty, caste and gender based discrimination and many such issues. But they feel hopeless and helpless now due to this ruthless action of the hostel authorities. In the end of their appeal, they have requested for assistance to save them from the disasters this decision of the hostel authorities has spelled out for them and the families they support.
Amisha Nanda, a first-year student of Faculty of Law, who has been working closely with workers regarding the issue and has also raised their concerns told DU Beat,
“This discontinuation of payment of salaries of workers has taken place in many other hostels and the University of Delhi at large, as well. Workers at Ambedkar Ganguly Student’s House for Women have been directly hired by the varsity in the month of July itself and just after a month of the contract, the authorities are stating they have run out of funds. This is illegal and caste and gender based harassment as they believe the workers won’t raise their voices against this injustice. The authorities are calling up the workers and telling them they can’t pay the salaries and asking aap bataiye hum kya kare?(you tell us what should we do?). The resident students have come forward and agreed to pay on charitable grounds, only if Warden and Provost too pay. The management is brushing off its incompatibility and incompetency and further, shifting the onus on workers and students. We will take this issue to the SC – ST commission, Women Commission and other organizations or people, who might associate with the cause. Also, we are planning to write to the Delhi government as well as the Central Government. It is already difficult for the workers to manage life with the current salary of around Rs.15000 and this puts an additional burden on workers and their families as well.”
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