Stop the planned layoff of IIT Kanpur Visitors' Hostel workers
Prof Indranil Manna
Indian Institute of Technology
Kanpur, U.P., India
Dear Prof. Manna,
We have very recently learned that the Institute has awarded the contract for management of Visitors’ Hostel (“VH”) to a new contractor. We understand that 72 of the 74 workers who have worked at the VH have been given the notice of termination of their services by the new VH contractor, retaining only 2 of these former 74 workers. We, as concerned alumni, are shocked and extremely concerned at this sudden layoff of 72 workers at the VH.
In the course of last many years, many of us in the Citizens’ Forum and indeed a lot of other alumni have had the opportunity of staying at VH and interacting with these employees. In each and every one of our experiences we found that these employees provided courteous and efficient services and further, that both alumni and non-alumni visitors have also attested to this fact on multiple occasions.
We acknowledge that IITK is within its right to award a contract to a new contractor who best meets the requirements. However, the principal employer of these contract workers remains our Alma Mater, and therefore, IITK must meet its obligation towards the responsibility that not only these workers receive proper living wages the law requires be paid to all contract workers promptly but also that they not be dismissed unfairly by the new contractor. For if the new contractor can dismiss the workers who have served the institute so well in the past, then how can any worker get fairness in the work place or fair wages, this arbitrary leverage being so big upon these vulnerable contract workers who have little reserve and no way to support themselves and their families, and can become destitute at the whim of their contractor?
How can the institute be well served by this socially destabilizing and reckless ways of any contractor? We do not want to see the rule of the jungle at our Alma Mater, and we hope and expect you agree with us. We want to see social justice and fairness towards all workers on our campus, and we hope that you are with us on that as well.
We, the concerned alumni therefore urgently request you to please investigate this situation and reverse the decision of the new contractor so that all 72 of these laid off workers’ contracts are reinstated with the new contractors and in accordance with and in the spirit and intent of the current Indian labour laws on contract workers.
We believe and I am sure that as a head of our alma mater you will agree that these workers are human beings, providing for their respective families and with the same aspirations for their children, as we the alumni of IITK have and the faculty of IITK does as well.
We also think you will agree with us that these workers are not mere entries in a spread sheet and must not be treated as chattel. These current VH workers have been serving the IITK community for over 8 years. Uprooting their lives will be devastating for them and a mockery of compassion and fairness that must be our goal for a new India for which IITK, we are sure you also agree with us, is an important institution.
We, the concerned alumni therefore urgently appeal to you to investigate the issue and try to find a satisfactory and a positive solution for both parties. Time is of the essence here, as we understand the new contractor starts work on September 1, 2017.
With sincere regards,
For more background on the planned layoff of VH workers at IIT Kanpur: