Where increase of private school fees is becoming an issue of the day with state governments fast trying to regulate the same for benefit of all, it seems other issues related to them like those of labour, etc should also be addressed simultaneously. In a second incidence of this row Shimla, workers of Auckland House school have been agitating for their rights, but to no effect.
“ Labour laws like payment of minimum wages, Provident Fund, ESI insurance, Minimum working hours and more are not being followed by the school authorities,” stated an agitation leader Vijender Mehra. Adding, when around 28 workers represented their case with the labour department, they were turned out illegally from the school, which provogated the agitation. He said that since their demand charter was pending with the labour department, therefore the suspension by the school in that period is illegal as per the Labour dispute act 1947 (section 9 and 33).
Whereas the school authorities state, that they had never appointed these people on their roles. These workers were contracted through an agency based in Chandigarh who was paying these workers salaries, etc. Now the school authorities decided to terminate the contract with the Chandigarh based contractor and hired another one, which is now providing them service. The school says that they had been taking care of the rights of these workers. “We were paying them Rs 700/- more than the minimum wages, along with food and accommodation,” stated School authorities. Along with justifying that since these workers were not on their direct roles so other rights were not a prerogative of the school.
However the agitating workers state that since many of them were working in the school for more than ten years or so, and holidays and other administrative approvals in regard to their working were approved by the principal of the school, therefore the institution is liable to fulfill their other rights too. They say that even legally as per the Contract Labour Evolution and Regulation act 1970, the school is liable to fulfill their demands.
However this battle currently seems to be leading nowhere near a solution yet if the row continues is bound to leave a bad impact on the students studying at the institution. Along with security of the kids also being compromised due to the ongoing agitation, which is the biggest worry of some parents, whose wards study in the school. Some parents also state that they were even feeling sad for the agitating workers. As these poor workers would involve in the agitation, and will have to suffer financially.
The school however is not ready to take these workers back, wherein on the other hand the workers are also set for raging the agitation even further. Though now the issue is sub-judice at the labour court but meanwhile district administration seems to be not doing enough except for providing security to all the stakeholders.
All that just to raise a question that since the issue is related to our children’s education and some poor workers livelihood, shouldn’t the governmental authorities intervene and make all reach a viable solution quickly?