Srinagar: Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a well-known school in Srinagar has fired at least 20 teachers who refused to use ‘Zoom’ video conferencing application following the reports that it was prone to hackers.
The authorities at Green Valley Educational Institute in Ellahi Bagh Srinagar Thursday served termination notices to at least 20 teachers, mostly females, who were hired just two months back after the latter expressed their apprehension about the privacy and security issues flagged by users regarding ‘Zoom’.
The Kashmir Monitor got hold of the termination letters handed over digitally to the teachers.
“You have explicitly expressed your non availability to join e-classes which is the need of the hour…Your letter of dissent to take the e-classes is enclosed herewith…Consequent upon your dissent, which tantamount the blatant disregard and disrespect of the school rules and regulations, the Management has decided not to extent your probation…your services are dispensed off with immediate effect (sic),” reads one of the orders issued to a teacher on Thursday.
In rest of the orders too, the school has cited the same reason to fire the teachers.
The school has also withheld the salaries of these teachers during these tough times.
“Whatever is due to you in terms of salary for the period you worked, it will be disbursed after the reopening of the institution,” reads the order.
The Kashmir Monitor has already reported how the application is under scrutiny over privacy and pornographic hacks.
A teacher who was issued the termination notice told The Kashmir Monitor that while they had expressed their hesitation about ‘Zoom’, the teachers never refused to conduct online classes as claimed by the school.
“We told the management that we are ready to use any other application except Zoom. We even informed them that if we are conducting four classes with Zoom, we will conduct five using any other application,” the teacher said.
Many teachers, especially females, had actually written to the management about the same.
“They, however, made it a point to fire teachers during this crisis,” the teacher said.
The termination of services by Green Valley School comes a few days after PM Modi, in his country-wide address, urged organisations not to fire their employees and treat them well.
Besides, on Thursday, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory terming ‘Zoom’ application an “unsafe platform”.
“Zoom is not a safe platform even for usage of individuals a detailed advisory has already been issued by CERT-India,” the home ministry said in the advisory.
Chairman Green Valley School, Mohammad Yousuf Wani initially said the school had “not issued termination letters but show-cause notices to the teachers.”
When this reporter pointed out that the letters clearly mentioned firing the teachers, the Chairman said only those were asked to leave who had joined in February 2020 and were on probation, while the rest were issued show cause notices.
“These are a few teachers who are creating problems. When all schools are using the application, why do handful of these (teachers) have a problem with Zoom?” he said.
The Chairman added that they will stop using the application if the government clearly issues orders about banning it.
Director School Education Kashmir, Dr Younis Malik told The Kashmir Monitor that he too has received a complaint from the teachers and he will “contact the school authorities.”
Labour Commissioner J&K, Abdul Rashid War said the teachers should contact him or send a representation and he will issue a notice to the school.
“Ideally the teachers should have been given an opportunity to explain themselves. The school cannot fire them right-away,” he said.
Interestingly, War said he too has asked his daughter not to use the application for online classes considering the security issues.