Why are regular HMC employees protesting?

Awaaz, IIT Kharagpur
9 min readDec 17, 2019


Disclaimer: All the facts, and opinions presented in this article have been scouted from various documents provided by relevant Hall Employees Union representatives and based on conversations with them.

On the 10th of December this winter, Hall Employees Union started a silent protest asking for their demands to be met. One can still see a group of regular Hall employees sitting in front of the main building to register their silent protest against unfulfillment of their demands that they have been putting forward for a long time. While students wondered about the reasons for their protest, some reporters from our team had a talk with their representatives and tried to know about their demands. What follows further is the synopsis of their demands and reasons that have compelled them to come out for protest currently as well as many times in the past.

Regular HMC employees staging silent protest near main building

Inequality between Institute employees and regular Hall employees

Halls of Residences play a crucial role in the daily lives of students. And so do the Hall employees. Likewise Institute employees also do important tasks to keep the institute running. But historically, both sets of employees i.e., Institute and regular Hall employees have not been treated equally. While Institute employees have been getting their due benefits e.g., post-retirement medical schemes, pension, promotions, regularization of dependents of deceased/disabled employees, etc., Regular Hall employees have not been getting these benefits in contrast to Institute employees. While some benefits have not at all been extended to regular hall employees, some benefits are provided irregularly and inconsistently. Regular Hall employees allege that they have been treated unfairly by the Institute authority and their demands have not been taken too seriously.

As per Board of Governors’ meeting held on 18th December 2007, a committee was formed to review the issues of regular Hall employees but to date, regular Hall employees do not feel that their demands have been met. And that’s why they have been forced to protest so many times for the last ten years. The Institute vide its memo no. MS/B-1 (159)/2009/2376 dated 24th February 2009 conveyed that regular Hall employees will get all benefits including pension identical to regular Institute employees. But this has not been implemented so far. That’s the major concern for regular Hall employees on protest.

Not implementing the post-retirement medical scheme for regular Hall employees

In the diamond jubilee celebration year, the institute had introduced a post-retirement medical scheme for its regular employees. But regular Hall employees have yet not been considered for this benefit. Citing a few examples from the recent past, the representatives said that two of regular Hall employees have died within three months of their retirement due to lack of affordability of medical facilities. Had there been post-retirement medical facilities for these retired regular Hall employees as it is in place for Institute employees, they could have lived longer and healthily. They demand that these medical benefits should be extended to the regular Hall employees at par with Institute employees.

Anomaly related to Pay and Promotion rules

Regular HMC employees believe that HMC has largely misled them over the Pay Scale and Promotion policies that all the other government employees all over India in the same group receive. Not executing the revised Pay Commissions always has been a major issue for regular HMC employees. Policies like up-gradation of salaries for workers in a certain pay scale in a fixed period of time should be implemented by rule, but these workers allege that it has not happened yet. One of the documents read, “According to current practice at IIT Kharagpur, a group D employee who has completed 3 years of qualifying service in the pay scale of Rs. 2550–3220 is placed in the scale of Rs. 2650–4000. This benefit, however, has not been extended to all the HMC employees fulfilling similar criteria.”

Hall employees are mostly categorized into three classes i.e., Bearer, Masalchi and Cleaner (BMC). After a work experience of around 8–10 years, a Cleaner gets promoted to Masalchi, and so on. Recently, a circular putting 169 employees belonging to these three categories in the same bracket was released. This has created a problem for those Bearers and Masalchis who had worked hard for their way up and after this circular, are bound to work as Cleaners as well.

Recruitment of Dependents and Deceased/Disabled regular Hall employees

If a worker, being the only earner in the family dies or becomes medically unfit to work, having done only a few years of service, it often becomes impossible for the family to drift back to normal financial track without another bread-earner. Another family member (dependent) is to be given a job in such a condition and it is done for Institute employees. This very crucial right is what most HMC workers and their families are being deprived of. Those families of deceased or disabled regular Hall employees are living in harsh conditions. Their children drop out of school, and dependents are forced to lead a miserable life. In the year 2005, most of the dependents of deceased and disabled employees were regularized in the Institute but the same cases for regular Hall employees were not considered. These cases should be considered as most of these cases are pending for more than 10 years and their families need immediate support.

Not allotting quarters to regular Hall employees at par with Institute employees

Regular Hall employees are eligible for the same benefits at par with the Institute employees. But they are being deprived of accommodation facilities as per their pay scale. Right now, regular Hall employees (Group C) are getting G type quarters which are ideally allotted to Group D employees, and Group C employees are to be allotted H1, H type quarters. Regular Hall employees allege that there are vacant H type quarters available but they are not being provided to regular Hall employees. In 2014, they were promised by the then HMC chairman (verbally) that they would be allotted properly suitable quarters but they have not been given the appropriate quarters yet. Their demand is that regular Hall employees also should get the benefit for allotment of Institute quarters at par with the Institute employees and they should also be declared eligible for applying for allotment of quarters against any open circular being issued by the Institute as per their eligibility and other conditions as per house allotment rules. In a meeting held in the HMC on 12th July 2013 with the office bearers of the Negotiation Committee, the Chairman (HMC) and the Registrar (IIT Kharagpur), the Registrar had accepted that the regular Hall employees are also entitled to H1 and H type quarter and when there will be vacant H1 and H type quarters, regular Hall employees too will be allotted the same.

Not implementing R&PR policy for regular Hall employees

The recruitment and promotion rules as recommended by the 10th Administration and HR subcommittee of the BoG in its 186th meeting held on 24th June 2017 for regular Hall employees at par with Institute employees have not been implemented yet. Some of these specific demands include the promotion of HMC-Cook to Cook, staff members whose designation is Masalchi or Cleaner but working as Cook and Cook helper to be promoted to Cook through promotion policy structure, staff members whose designation is BMC and working as an office attendant in various Halls to be redesignated to Junior Attendant, implementing the revised Grade pay of Assistant Caretaker/Manager (Rs. 4200) and Supervisor (Rs. 2800) as per the recommendations of the 7th Administrative and HR subcommittee on 26th May 2016, etc.

Around 4 months ago, these workers went on a strike which lasted for 48 days. It ended by assurances given in a meeting with the Director that the administration would consider all their demands in time and issues will be resolved within three months. Since then, the workers’ community has written 5 letters to the administration regarding the same. But there hasn’t been any real progress so far. In the month of June, the regular Hall employees had put forward various demands while going on another agitation. The protest continued for weeks. The Hall Management Center (HMC) responded to these demands on the 9th of July stating that some of these demands have been already implemented, some have been assured to be implemented in the near future whereas rest of the demands are being looked into. Their responses on various demands were as follows:

  1. Implementation of MACP (Modified Assured Career Progression) from 2015.
    Response: HMC has already implemented MACP up to December 2018. The cases of MACP up to June 2019 will be taken up shortly.
  2. Allotment of Institute quarters to HMC regular employees.
    Response: Institute has assured to hand over few more H1 type quarters to HMC, as and when available for allotment to the eligible employees of HMC
  3. Immediate implementation of Cadre/Ladder for regular Hall employees.
    Response: The cadre/Ladder structure is already defined with implementation of Recruitment and Promotion Rules (R & PR). Accordingly, HMC have already promoted several of its regular employees to Manager/Supervisor/Cook with effect from 01.07.2019. Other posts under Cadre/Ladder will be advertised very soon.
  4. Immediate implementation of 7th CPC (Central Pay Commission) for pensioners of HMC employees.
    Response: 7th CPC for pensioners will be implemented on audit vetting of the calculations. It is in the final stage. HMC has already disbursed 40% of un-vetted pension arrears. 30% of un-vetted arrears will be disbursed by July 2019.
  5. Arrear Children Education Allowance, Transport Allowance and House Rent Allowance as per 7th CPC.
    Response: All allowance will be disbursed by July 2019.
  6. Pay anomalies of some regular employees.
    Response: HMC authority would examine the alleged pay anomalies once a fresh list of pay anomalies are handed over to it. For this purpose, a separate committee will be constituted to look into the pay anomalies if any, on receipt of the fresh list of anomalies within frameworks within frameworks of pay rules.
  7. Immediate recruitment of the dependant of the deceased/disabled employees.
    Response: The matter will be examined considering R & PR and otherwise, and will be placed to the competent authority.
  8. Implementation of the post-retirement medical scheme for regular Hall employees.
    Response: The matter will be examined in terms of the financial situation/position of HMC and will be placed to the competent authority.

However, regular Hall employees allege that most of these promises made above have yet not been delivered on. On 16th July 2019, a meeting was held between IIT authority and representatives of the HMC regular employees in the boardroom of the institute. Following points were decided in the meeting:

  1. The demand for recruitment of dependents of the deceased/ disabled among HMC employees will be reviewed as per the rules and regulations of Government of India.
  2. Observations of the HMC regular employees will be obtained on the alleged anomalies of R&PR implemented in September 2018. A committee will be formed to review these observations.
  3. A committee will be formed to explore the possibility of implementation of PRMS for regular employees of HMC.

Long after this meeting when the demands were still not met, the Hall Employees Union wrote to the Director (IIT Kharagpur) on 5th August, 9th August, and 15th November this year asking him to intervene to get the promises fulfilled and have a discussion. But they got either no or lukewarm response. Same has been the fate of their letters to the Chairman of BoG and MHRD. Earlier, after getting assurances of redressal from the authority, they had rolled back their agitation program but no positive step had yet been taken. They allege that the authorities are indifferent towards them and not interested in fulfilling their demands. Finding no other alternative, the IIT Hall Employees Union declared to start the agitation from 10.12.2019 till the authority agrees to sort out their pending demands. We came across numerous documents showing formal conversations (applications and letters) between regular Hall employees and authorities which suggests that they have been trying to get their demands met for a long time but to no avail. The assurance to consider their demands and then not delivering on the promises have kept protests going on and off many times for the last ten years. The representatives said that they had no intentions to disrupt the regular services provided by them in the Halls and hence, they are staging this silent protest along with doing all the regular work assigned to them in Halls.

Awaaz, IIT Kharagpur hopes that all these issues will be resolved lawfully, keeping in mind all the rules and regulations in place which will enable both parties to function more peacefully.