For the past four days, more than 200 workers who work as sanitation workers in the Mysore University, have been sitting outside the Vice Chancellor’s office demanding their minimum wage and other dues.
The workers are protesting over two issues — one to get their provident fund money which has been deducted by the university for all these years and two — minimum wage fixed by the state government.
Most of these workers have been working at the university for over 14 years and some of them who were hired as Group D employees have been working there for over 20 years.
However, the administration has threatened to sack the protesting employees and introduce a contract system for sanitation workers. However, the protestors have received support from a section of students and professors.
"Although money has been deducted from the salaries, we have found out that they (University administration) have not opened the accounts at all and hence have not paid any money to the PF office all these years. The total amount comes up to nearly Rs 3.5 crore. We are not moving anywhere from here and will be living here,” Chandrasekhar Meti, president of the protesting workers’ union and an All India Trade Union Congress leader (AITUC), told TNM.
The workers are now pinning their hopes on Higher Education and District-in-Charge Minister, GT Devegowda, who will meet these workers. The meeting is set to take place on Saturday.
Moreover, the daily minimum wage in the state had been increased but the university did not revise the salaries accordingly, Meti alleged.
Speaking to TNM, Narayan, chairman of the Karnataka State Safai Karamchari
Multiple times, the workers have individually asked the university administration about their salaries but they were informally told that they can either leave work or work under same conditions.
Following this, they organised and registered a union through which they submitted a memorandum to University one year back. However, that also did not yield a favourable response.
“Following inaction by the authorities, the workers approached the state Safai Karamchari
But the university chose to disregard the order by the Safai Karamchari
“Six months ago, we had given a complaint to the PF office; they have sent eight notices to the university and not one of them have been acknowledged. A complaint has also been filed at the Deputy Labour Commissioner's office too,” he alleged.
Meti alleged the university administration of further discriminating the workers on the basis of their gender.
“They claimed it is the men who only formed the union, so men can get Rs 15,000 while women will be given Rs 9,000,” Meti said. Out of the total 220 workers, 70 are men and 150 are women.
When TNM spoke to former acting Vice Chancellor Shivaraj, he said that the workers’ demands are justified but did not elaborate on who is at fault.