The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association (JNUTA) has issued a statement, expressing solidarity with the strike call given by All India Trade Unions. The JNUTA has stated that it “stands firmly in solidarity with the strike call given by All India Trade Unions on November 26”. The working people of the country have faced an unprecedented assault on their livelihoods and rights over the last nine months. It highlighted the “lack of planning and preparation by the government to deal with the Covid pandemic, and a sudden imposition of 10-week-long lockdown, resulted in a loss of employment and earnings for a vast number of workers”.
According to JNUTA, rather than provide relief, the government has “used the Covid 19 pandemic to withdraw some of the most fundamental rights enjoyed by workers and introduced wide-ranging policy shifts in the agricultural sector.” It amplified that almost all the major unions of workers and peasant organisations, have pointed out that these changes have been brought about “at the behest of large corporate houses and will only profit them.”
Even within the university, the JNUTA put on record that “a large number of support staff such as sanitation and mess workers, technical assistants and clerical staff members, find themselves working in increasingly precarious conditions with contractual engagements going on for years without any sign of them being made permanent.” The three labour Codes approved by the Parliament: the Code on Social Security Bill, the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code and the Industrial Relations Code 2020 “will all further increase the power of employers to freely hire and fire workers as and when they like” stated the teachers union, adding that “the irregular pay and exploitative conditions of work that have been seen during the pandemic, may worsen in the months ahead for workers.
The statement signed by JNUTA President Milap C Sharma, and all office bearers noted that “during this period, the government has also done little to support students who are facing unprecedented difficulties in continuing with their education because educational institutions have been shut and nothing more than online teaching, which in a country where availability of electricity, computers and internet is a luxury enjoyed by a few,” the digital divide said the teachers “ensures exclusion of many. Instead of providing support to students and teachers on war-footing, the government has again used the opportunity to wreak havoc on public education under the garb of the NEP.”
JNUTA called upon all its members to express their support with the striking workers in “whatever way they can” as this “nefarious agenda of the government can only be defeated by joint struggles of working people.”