Sanitation workers at Yamuna hostel of Jawaharlal University are up in arms over alleged underpayment for about 50 days in their yearly salaries.
On Saturday night, a public hearing at Godavari hostel mess discussed their woes. These contractual workers were made to work for 30 days a month on grounds of paucity of staff but allegedly paid for just 26 days a month.
The attendance registers, which marked attendance but didn’t take signatures or thumb impressions, show they were present all through the month. The payments, however, equal the minimum wages for 26 days, meaning these workers rendered unpaid labour for 50 days a year.
A university fact-finding committee agreed that the workers rendered unpaid labour, and recommended that they be paid for it.
The warden, accused by students of being responsible for underpayment and also alleged harassment of workers, has been shifted to another hostel. But the workers are yet to be paid.
The report of another one-man enquiry on the matter has not been made public yet.
“Underpayment took place for two, three, even five years. The arrears at the present minimum wages of Rs 279 a day run into as much as Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000,” said a scholar of the Yamuna hostel.
Hostel residents sat on a hunger strike earlier this year to protest against the issue.
Safai Mazdoor Mukti Andolan president OP Shukla said, “The contract system is the worst system to exploit sweepers and scavengers.”
Enquiries by HT show wages of contractual sanitation workers, even if not deducted illegally, can be as low as a third of permanent sanitation workers. Surendra (name changed), a JNU sanitation worker working under a private contractor since 2003, gets a gross salary of about Rs 7,000 a month without annual increments. On the other hand, Rani (name changed), an NDMC sanitation worker who became permanent in 2003, gets a gross salary of Rs 17,018. Close to retirement, an MCD sanitation worker gets up to Rs 22,000 as gross monthly salary.