The University’s contracted sanitation workers continued to raise their demands by organising a hunger strike, two days after the May Day protest.

Starting around 9:30 a.m, the safaikaramcharis (sanitation workers) of the University of Delhi (DU) supported by multiple student organisations, sat on a hunger strike to raise demands of securing their livelihoods, among other things. This comes after a protest that was organised on 1st May 2019 on the occasion of International Labour Day.

The safaikaramcharis were supported by various student organisations. Among these were students from Students’ Federation of India, Parivartankami Chhatra Sangathan (Pachhas), Pinjra Tod, Collective etc.The hunger strike was marked by sloganeering, speeches, songs sit-ins, and a display of solidarity, went on near the Faculty of Arts building of the University from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The protesters demanded reinstatement of jobs following change of tender, permanent jobs for permanent work and payment of held up salaries, Provident Fun, Employees’ State Insurance and bonus amounts.

However, unsatisfied with the response of the administration, the protesters had decided to carry out a signature campaign and a hunger strike on the following two days.The following day, the protesters organised a signature campaign. Over 400 students from different courses and colleges joined in to express solidarity with the safaikaramcharis.  

However, even after today’s proceedings, the protesters said there had been no response from the side of the administration. Thus, to carry on the demonstrations, a protest outside the Deputy Proctor’s office and a rally have been scheduled for 4th May and 6th May 2019 respectively.

On talking to DU Beat, Diya Davis, a member of Pinjra Tod and one of the protesters present at the venue today, said, “It is very clear that the University is hand in gloves with NexGen in terminating the workers. This is to simply teach a lesson to all workers that if they demand for fair wages and other constitutionally granted rights, they will be easily replaced. Workers organizing and raising voices against their exploitation threatens the admin and these private contractors.”

Image credits – DU Beat archives

Prateek Pankaj

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