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  • The Edict

Workers claim worker shortage, Admin alleges absenteeism

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

By Navya Asopa (UG’24) and Avishi Dalmia (UG’25)

With the new batch (UG’25) consisting of 677 students, and a number of additional study abroad students being accommodated on campus, the student body has substantially grown this monsoon. However, as told by the administration, the number of workers employed remains unchanged. According to the admin, only 95 out of the 179 employed housekeeping staff are regular in their work. However, the attendance information has not been made public.

Bhaskar Mishra, Vice-President of Operations and Pooja Manaktala, the Director of Administration & Service Excellence, said that there was absenteeism in the department, not a workers shortage. “This absenteeism stems from cover ups due to medical reasons and the chance that workers are working two jobs. However, this has caused a cycle wherein, workers don’t come in, then ask for loans and fall into debt”, said Mishra. When asked what action was taken regarding the absent workers, The Edict received no response.

It is important to note that workers are legally allowed to take a stipulated number of absences. Mishra elaborated on this, “See, we cannot disobey the law of the land. We follow what the government here says. You know the Employment Law right? Those are the number of absences they get here.” The number of absences allowed to every worker in Haryana under the Shops and Establishment act is 7 days. However, the administration alleged that some housekeeping staff had taken long unpermitted leave but the administration was “still figuring out the logistics of it”. When asked if there was a change in salary of the staff who were doing additional work, Mishra said, “We cannot reduce their salary because their salaries are paid according to the Minimum Wages Act”. When asked what compensation or alternative was given to those who had to work overtime. The administration responded that overtime was paid and the extra work was balanced. “For example, when a worker is assigned two floors, they aren't required to clean the bathrooms or rooms.” Additionally, Manaktala said, “We have the right numbers to run this campus. There is no workers shortage as such. We are analysing the data right now to figure out what best we can do.” Mishra added, “Quess Corp’s HR should also look into this and track this.”

Manoj Didi (name changed) said, “There is excessive work now for the same pay itself.” On being asked if the work has been balanced, she said, “See, workers will be absent sometimes. We are permitted a few holidays. But the work has not been reduced. Yesterday, I cleaned 2 floors, today 3. And if we don’t show up, they obviously don’t pay.” She further elaborated, “Earlier, there were 8 workers for RH2 which has 7 floors. Now, there are 7 workers only. We need more people here.” The 8th worker has allegedly been shifted to the outside areas of the library or admin block. She also said that “They hesitated to pay us. It had been 3 years since our payment increment took place. After protests by students during the lockdown, it finally increased by Rs. 500. If we approach them about being overworked and needing more staff, they will tell us to leave. It’s our helplessness that we are here today.” While many floor workers agreed with Manoj Didi, some security and reception staff corroborated the administration’s view on workers absenteeism. A female worker at the reception desk said, “The housekeeping is paid more than us and they still complain about the pay. I don’t think any of them has been removed, some have been shifted though. But it’s true that they have been overworked lately.”

The housekeeping staff seems to face a persistent problem of being understaffed and overworked for the same salary. Despite increasing student capacity, the staff members in the housekeeping have been shifted to the outside areas of library and admin blocs and their numbers have not been increased.

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