DU’s non-teaching staff protests against e-tendering of jobs

- March 22, 2023
| By : Muhammad Tahir |

Staff says the new system will lead to job insecurity and corruption, wants the administration to put employees working on contractual basis into permanent vacancies  

A spokesperson of DUCKU is addressing the protesting employees outside the Faculty of Arts

The non-teaching staff of Delhi University have been protesting outside the Faculty of Arts since February 8 against government’s decision to outsource jobs through e-tender.

The employees allege that the move by Delhi University to engage staff through Government e-Market (GeM) will make them more vulnerable with no job security, and complete denial of provisions like health insurance and pensions.

Devendra Sharma, president of the Delhi University and College Karamchari Union (DUCKU), said, “Our protest will continue and if needed, we will do nationwide protest in future.”

The protesters warn that this is an indefinite period protest and they will not allow this scheme at any cost. Many workers’ unions have extended their support to the protest.

GeM is an online portal set up under the aegis of Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry for procurement of common-use goods and services by ministries, departments and public sector enterprises.

DUCKU President Devendra Sharma, wearing a white shirt, is seen with employees at the protest site

Dharmendra Tiwari, a library assistant at Hindu College, who is part of the protest, stated, “We have been protesting against e-tendering for over a month. If this scheme is implemented, then contracted employees who work here will suffer. There are around 5,000 employees in the university, who protest here from 10 am to 4 pm. Until now, they used to purchase items needed by the university through GeM, but now they want to make appointments through it too. This will lead to dhandhlebaaji (corruption).”

Tiwari added, “If this is implemented, it would lead to 50% decrease in salary of the contracted employees, which would be a significant loss for them. It’s unacceptable. The government has already removed pension schemes and government jobs, and now they want to cut our salaries too. We, the contracted employees, are fully united and will not back down until e-tendering is reversed. We have a strong bond, and until the government withdraws this proposal, we will not give up.”

Lovkesh Jairath, secretary of Keshav College, said, “It is clear that we are witnessing the introduction of slavery at Delhi University after 75 years of independence, which we will not allow at any cost. The biggest loss of e-tendering is that the person who has been working here for the last 15 to 20 years will be replaced by people familiar to the contractor or will be exploited.”

He added, “We sent a letter with our demands on January 20 to the administration, but they have neither responded nor met till date. Except for tendering, we also demanded that our over 2,000 employees who are on contract basis should be made permanent. We also did not get medical reimbursements for the last 3 years, and the college principal did not provide us with a direct payment letter. They want to impose Hitlershahi in the University.”

A junior assistant, who is on contract in the university for the last 15 years, said, “We are currently working on contract basis and hoping for permanent employment in the future. While the university provides us with a letter every six months, if e-tendering is implemented, we would lose our job security and be at risk of termination at any time. Goonge-behre bankar naukri karni hogi (We have to work with our eyes and ears shut). The contractor can fire us anytime.

“We are confused about the university’s intentions and concerned about our future. We want to be recognised for our hard work and integrity and be granted permanent employment by the university,” he said on condition of anonymity.

“We were selected by the university based on the rules at the time. I passed the typing test and interview in 2006, and now the university is calling it ‘backdoor’ entry. However, we went to court and it was revealed that the university itself allowed backdoor entry. Despite the university claiming to be autonomous, we are worried about our future after dedicating 20 years of our lives to this institution. We want the university to recognise our hard work and offer us permanent employment,” he added.

Kamaljeet Singh, who has been working in Kirori Mal College for the last 33 years as lab assistant, expressed concerns about the policies and rules regarding appointments in the university.

Lab assistant Kamaljeet Singh (on the left) and Dharmendra Tiwari are holding a slogan plate at the protest site

“On one hand, they are conducting exams and on the other hand, they are implementing GeM. Recently, some appointments were made in hostels in my college, but those employees left the job because their salary was only Rs 13,000. How can anyone survive on such a low salary in this expensive city? Currently, contract employees receive a salary of Rs 24,000 plus DA (dearness allowance). Some employees have been working on contract for the past 22 to 25 years, but they have not been made permanent yet.”

Singh further stated, “When we protested, the university revealed that they have 1,100 non-teaching staff vacancies. We are demanding that the employees who have worked on contract for a long time here should be adjusted in these vacancies. Injustice is happening everywhere. Recently, in Hansraj College, 62 ad-hoc teachers who had been teaching for over a decade were fired and replaced by their relatives. It’s too much. We have been protesting for 37 days now, but the administration has not responded to our demands, nor have they met with our association. We need a solution.”

Devendra Sharma, president of the Delhi University and College Karamchari Union (DUCKU), spoke to Patriot about the union’s protest against the e-tender process for non-teaching staff vacancies.

He said, “On January 10, the university announced vacancies for non-teaching staff through e-tendering. The Karamchari union condemned this new process and started protesting against it. We demand that the university consider the employees who have been working here for the past two decades before implementing this new system. Two years ago, they opened 11 vacancies through NTA (National Testing Agency), so why not fill them first? The employees were also charged Rs 1,000 as a fee for this process, which is a violation of their rights. We also have other demands related to salary issues, medical and other allowances.”

Sharma continued, “The university authorities have not responded to our demands regarding e-tendering, although they have replied to some of our letters. However, on March 15, we had a meeting with the vice-chancellor in the dean’s office committee room. It was decided that the demands raised by DUCKU will be resolved as soon as possible, and we will be informed about the same. The protest will continue until we receive a written response, and if necessary, we will conduct a nationwide protest. We have received support from many people and organisations. Ye to hamara haq cheen rahe hain. Ye kon sa bharat mahaan chal raha hai (They are taking away our rights. What kind of great India is this)?”

The Letter written by a union to the University Administration outlining their demands

The Registrar of Delhi University, Vikas Gupta, told Patriot, “We met with the union members on March 15 and formed a committee to address their concerns. This process of appointing new employees through e-tenders is being followed by many universities in India, including IITs and NITs. Our aim is to increase the manpower, and we will not terminate the jobs of existing employees. However, we will remove those who do not perform their duties properly.”