Friday, April 06, 2007

Any suggestions?

I am terribly upset. Where else can I pour my heart out but in my very own blog space? We recently went on a strike that has now been called off. As of now, I feel that the strike has served no real purpose. One of our main demands was that the services of 94 employees who have put in 24 years of service be regularized. Nine of them are in our college too and one is in my own department. He was around 20 years of age when he joined. I have come to look upon him as my younger brother and cannot distance myself from his problems. The group was drawing regular salary and other benefits till ’94 but from then they have been receiving ad hoc salary saying that they have been appointed without proper sanctioning of post. They are being made to do their regular duty for just Rs.2000/- and it suits the university to exploit them. Why didn’t they just throw them out? This strike has not resolved their problem and our leaders are busy counting and calculating the financial benefits they expect to derive due to the revised pay scale.I wish to hang my head in shame.

Just before the strike my colleagues wanted me to take charge as the secretary of the Non teaching association of my college. While I thanked them for the trust that they placed in my ability to lead them, I refused. I had my reservations and felt that I did not fulfill the criteria that are required for a person to lead from the front in the present times. My colleagues felt let down. I decided to do a little introspection and came to the conclusion that I did not fit the bill. I now wonder whether I should have accepted the post after all. There is a quotation attributed to Shiv Khera “If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem”. Do I have to plead guilty for not rising to the occasion? Since I could not find a solution am I also adding to the problem by remaining a silent spectator? Fourteen years is a long period to wait for a solution. But am I in a position to do something? These are questions that bother me. Unfortunately I have no answers. The agreement papers have come in and the case of the 94 employees has not even found a place in the demand. In protest a number of us refused to attend a meeting called by our Zonal committee. We were not interested in listening to the office bearers blowing their trumpets while so many among us are still in the same position as they were before the strike. I suggested that we refuse to join unless our so called leaders arranged for a dialogue with the Vice Chancellor on the issue. Technical problems were quoted and the idea was dropped. I don’t even know if I have the right to complain when I can do nothing to alleviate their misery. Iwonder what I can and cannot do. Here is a list .Forgive me if I sound crazy. I am terribly upset.

1.I can put forth my arguments in a convincing manner but I cannot change my conviction in accordance with the people I deal with. Talking in two different languages with the employees and administrators is impossible for me.
2.I can go on a hunger strike if need be but I cannot deal with corruption at all levels.
3.I can give a patient hearing to all around me but I cannot hold back my candid opinion in the matter.
4.I can understand the employee’s plight but I cannot ignore the employer’s compulsion under a given circumstance.
5.I can initiate a dialogue but I cannot thump the table and scream at the top of my voice.
6.I can stand up for a wronged colleague but I cannot take his side just because he/she happens to be a colleague. I need to feel convinced that the person is right.

Do any of you have any suggestions?

15 comments:

apu said...

G, from what I can understand, your leaders readched an agreement which didn't include taking care of these unregularised employees.

Is there a way for these employees to now bargain in some other manner ? Or - if sufficient people threaten to quit, will it help ? or will soliciting media attention help? Though you are not in an official leadership role, would for e.g. getting a signature campaign from enough employees who feel like you help?

apologies if my suggestions are somewhat naive, since i've never actually handled or even seen such a situation.

As for yourself, I'd say please don't feel guilty about not taking on a more aggressive role. Not every one of us is destined to/ made for doing some things. Maybe you just know your own strengths and weaknesses.

Altoid said...

Hey HHG

Sometimes we discredit our own strengths and most times while the entire picture is hazy, we eventually see it when the fog is cleared. So its probably not wise to wait for the aha moment to dawn to take on new responsibilities.

That said, some people make better King makers than Kings ,so maybe you can do little things to help the solution-that way you will no longer feel that you are part of the problem.

I too havent experienced the situation described but I am sure you have plenty of insight and experience to make a difference.

“Every man, at the bottom of his heart, wants to do right. But only he can do right who knows right; only he knows right who thinks right; only he thinks right who believes right.”

Hip Grandma said...

apu:In fact I am thinking of involving the media in a week's time.Our refusal to attend the zonal meeting has resulted in the leaders approaching the VC who has agreed to review thei case and decide on something in a week's time.we are waiting with our finger's crossed.

altoid:I don't know if you have experienced the apathy in govt. offices.It can drive one crazy.More abt it later.As for these employees it is now or never.they have waited long enough.The so called leaders have nothing but self interest and I was kind of sure that I could never be part of the group and that was the reason for my refusal to become the secretary of my unit.Long long ago I went to Patna to get these posts sanctioned.my job was to check if everyone's designation and date of joining was noted down properly.After one meeting the dealing clerk asked my colleague not to bring me again.He did not feel comfortable.You can draw your conclusion.

Altoid said...

HHG,

I think my father has served enough in a state govt office all his life for me to decide never to do it to myself in my life ever! So to that point, yes I do know.

Sadly such is still the state and if your exposure hasnt been too encouraging either, but your idea of involving the media definitely sounds good. Do what you can to help them. I remember something that goes like this from the movie "Page 3". "System ko change karne ke liye system mein rehna padta hai". Good luck to you!

Usha said...

Hipgran: Temperamentally you are not suited to handle devious people - you are too straight.
The important question to ask is whether your health will permit you to go through the stress of protracted negotiations with these conniving people.
I suppose you should convince a younger, promising colleague to take on the responsibility assuring her of your support and advice.
And as an active member you can always have a check to ensure that things are going straight. you dont need to take on the pressures of an office.
My best wishes are with you and I hope your demands, just as they are, are met.

Hip Grandma said...

altoid:I have been in the system for more than 25 years tho' not in an official capacity.The story of the submission of my thesis and the tracing of the examiner's report and similar plight of other sincere Ph.D aspirants...... I can author a book based on all our experiences.But it is disappointing that those affected are not aware of their rights and when one stands up for them, an indirect threat from the powers that be, sends them right back into their conniving hands.They seem convinced that it is ultimately in their hands to do justice to them.I could go on for ever but that won't help.

usha:You are right and this was the very reason I declined the offer.I feel disturbed at the way people in power exploit those in distress and manage to get away with it.Ofcourse no one can stop me from standing up for these colleagues of mine.we're waiting to see if our VC is serious abt his commitment.he has promised to deal with the issue ASAP.!3th April is the day he has granted for a dialogue in the matter.I hope he does not fly off to Delhi on the very day.

Mahadevan said...

I don't know whether your association is an independent one or has some political affiliation. Generally left parties handle such situations well. If your health and temperament do not permit, you can remain at a distance and guide the younger ones to go ahead.

Deepthi said...

Gran if your heart is speaking over your mind then it is good to listen to the heart.I hear the voice in you which wants to throw everythign that u bealive in aside and jump into helping your people.However if you do not feel good about it then it is best left.the instincts that we have are very strong and please follow them.
If there is a justice then let the ones who asked u to take a stand fight.Tell them u will supoort them morally.Instead of trying to go on a strike try and think various ways of making things work.Take a poll or list down what sounds logical.

GettingThereNow said...

In my humble opinion, the reasons that you have cited for your decision are the VERY reasons why you SHOULD take on the role. THIS is the kind of leadership that the group would benefit from - an honest leadership. Not one where the leaders are just looking to gratify the powers-that-be to serve their own purposes.

artnavy said...

u have been tagged- pl take it up

and on this post- my heart goes out to you

my MIL is a non tecahing staff and hardly gets paid for the teaching that has been thrust on her

she does it because she enjoys it
she gets almost no vacation even in the summer

she is due for retirement and is not sure if they will give her an extension.....i can see the pattern across India

If people like you - concerned and articulate- can take up their cause - in however little a way- pl do so

Do not worry if you will be successful- at least you would have TRIED.

Srijith Unni said...

Hip Grandma, Time heals all, let the dust settle, a solution will come into place..

Take Care and GOd Bless..!

With Best Regards,
Srijith.

Hip Grandma said...

mahadevan:The association has no political affiliation.I get too invo;ved.So much that it affects my health.I really cannot take an objective view of things.That is why I prefer to play a supportive role.

deepthi:Those mentioned in the blog suffer for no real reason.The Univ has regularised their posts but is not releasing their full salary.They would have been better off if they had been thrown out.It is the leadership that is at fault.They seem to have some selfish motive which is not very clear to us.I may be wrong but years of waiting forces me to think so.

GTN:I am not too sure abt people wanting honest leadership.These days the results need to come in quick whatever the means.

artnavy:Nice to hear you youngsters encouraging us oldies.you're right I shud do my bit so that I may not have any regrets later.

srijith:May your words come true.Our colleagues have waited long enough.

passerby55 said...

When my Dad goes against some social injustice I am proud of him and support him in all his arguments. They are right and He is a very, very honest man.

Non of brothers, uncles support such. I see dad does find it difficult with his health issues. He has a bad knee. Yet pulls himslef up, to walk and fight injustice. My heart breaks. I force myself to tell him stop this dad, it won't help "THE WHOLE SYSTEM IS CORRUPT".

Sad, but true, Preeta people are now find corrupt institutions easier to handle and accommodating too,in their daily lives.

Archana Bahuguna said...

This may sound a little radical and maybe even somewhat harsh as a suggestion, but if you really feel nothing much is going to happen on the administration front, the prudent thing might be to look out for job alternatives for those people. In some way I feel this anyways does not seem to be the right place to work for them if they have been exploited like that anyways. Another possible thing would be to bring it out on papers if you think they have really been exploited. It will at least set an example for others.

I am sorry if my suggestions just seem foolhardy but that's really my opinion.

And I really appreciate and respect your concerns for the matter.

Hip Grandma said...

Passerby,archana:I am sorry to say that the 13th of April has come and gone but the VC is busy with the convocation and did not notify the release of these employees salary.He knew it along then why this false claim.Or is it the work of our netas.I appreciate your inputs.planning to do my bit soon.