Home Content Writing Content writers in open varsity allege breach of agreement

Content writers in open varsity allege breach of agreement


Output-based payment adopted due to difficulty in monitoring work during lockdown: Registrar

Over a dozen content writers hired by Sree Narayana Guru Open University, Kollam, have accused the authorities of breach of contractual agreement.

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The university had employed nearly 100 content writers for 15 disciplines at its two work stations in Kollam and Kozhikode recently. A contract of three months was signed between them and the university offering a consolidated salary of ₹42,000. The work started on March 15 and continued at the workstation in Kollam till April 28, though intermittently, due to the pandemic.

A notification asking the content writers to work from home was issued thereafter. On May 7, a new notification was issued based on a Syndicate decision, saying that the university had decided to make it an output-based engagement for which the remuneration was to be communicated. However, no such steps were taken or communicated to the content writers till early June.

Following this, review meetings were held online for all disciplines separately during which the Vice Chancellor asked the content writers to go on a work break to rectify and revisit the completed content. It meant a break from the present unit or block they were working upon as the time was to be spent to rework the already completed syllabus material.

There was no mention about the loss of pay during the work break, the content writers claimed. On June 4, another notification was issued specifying that the work break was granted on a mutual agreement for which the content writers would have to forgo the payment.

In a complaint submitted to the Registrar on Sunday last, 18 of these content writers said that they disagreed with the new mandate based on output. They alleged that the unilateral change of the mutually agreed upon legal contract and previous offers was a blatant breach of trust as the current contract was valid till June 15 for the Kollam centre and June 18 for the Kozhikode centre.

They claimed that break period with no payment was not mutually agreed upon. The content writers said they were not even orally informed during the review meeting that there would be a pay cut for this period. They claimed that many of them had said during the review that they would be able to work on the new content and do the corrections simultaneously. But they were coerced into taking a break and were explicitly asked not to send any work plan and work report to the centre coordinator.

P.N. Dileep, Registrar of the university, however, told The Hindu that the allegations were baseless. There was no question of breach of agreement as their jobs would not go. The Syndicate had also decided to release their salaries since May 7 in the coming days. It was decided to go for an output-based payment method as it could be difficult to monitor their work during the lockdown which was being extended now, Mr. Dileep said.

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