By Harshal Deshpande
Nagpur, 18th September 2020: 170 security guards staged a protest against the arbitrary removal of all the security personnel by the administration of Vishweshwariyya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur (VNIT). The guards who were removed from duty worked for SIS India Ltd., a security providing agency, on a contract basis.
SIS India Ltd
SIS India Ltd. was given the contract by VNIT in the year 2014. The contract with SIS India Ltd., as per the version of the VNIT administration, lapsed and Armour Security India Pvt. Ltd., was chosen as a new security service provider thus leading to the removal of security guards.
The security guards and their organisations strongly objected to this decision and demanded that all 170 guards be reinstated on duty even if there is a change in the Security service provider. The leaders of their organisations cited the Central Government’s directive that asked companies not to remove their employees considering the situation due to the pandemic and its impact on the workers and employees.
The protest at VNIT
“We will strongly resist this decision of the VNIT administration. Despite the Centre’s directives that asked for no lay-off, the VNIT administration although being a Central Government Institution, decided to remove us and that too during such a difficult period due to the pandemic. If we are removed from duty, how will be feed our families?”, said a security guard who worked in VNIT campus 6 years. He stated that all the 170 security personnel will launch an agitation by blocking the gates if the administration doesn’t budge from its arbitrary and inconsiderate decision.
Different organisations supporting
3 Trade Unions- Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Sanghatna (JJJKS), Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU), Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), gave a representation to the Additional Labour Commissioner (Nagpur) requesting for an intervention. A meeting was convened by Additional Labour Commissioner (Nagpur) which had representatives from the 3 trade unions and from the VNIT administration.
“The meeting failed to reach a consensus. The VNIT administration, with their decision, is going lead to 170 people unemployed. VNIT had released a tender for Security services in the month of November 2019. Several security agencies applied for it. One of them was Armour Security Pvt. Ltd. Armour Security Pvt. Ltd. failed to fulfil the criteria and later on while the process was still in progress, the nationwide lockdown was declared in the month of March. The Central Government instructed against the removal of employees by companies during the pandemic period. But VNIT though being a Central Government educational institution decided to grant the contract for security service to Armour Security despite it failing to fulfil the criteria. Why has the VNIT administration taken this decision and is rendering 170 security guards who worked for 6 years and guarded not just the campus but also the COVID care centre at VNIT during a time when the pandemic is at the peak in the country?”, said Mr Arun Wankar, Secretary of JJJKS. He condemned the decision of VNIT administration and resolved to launch an agitation if the demands of the security guards were not accepted by the administration.
“We demand that even if the contract for security services is given to another service provider, all 170 guards should be reinstated and their employment should be guaranteed by the VNIT and the service provider company.”, said Mr. Dilip Deshpande, General Secretary of CITU, Nagpur.
By 6.30 in the evening, VNIT administration was forced to extend the employment duration of all the security guards. The leaders of CITU and JJJKS not satisfied with the extension demanded reinstating all employees even if there is a change in the security agency. “The security services were to be handed over to Armour Security agency by 12 midnight today but now the administration has extended the date to 30th September. We have 15 days and we will legally fight the attempt of the VNIT administration to remove the workers during these testing times.”, stated Mr Wankar.
Report by Harshal Deshpande