LACAS MUST COMPENSATE LAID-OFF EMPLOYEES WITH 3 MONTHS SEVERANCE PAY AND BENEFITS

LACAS MUST COMPENSATE LAID-OFF EMPLOYEES WITH 3 MONTHS SEVERANCE PAY AND BENEFITS

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I write this as a student of LACAS A’levels Johar Town, Lahore. Class of 2020. I have been a student of LACAS since 2015, when my former school, Resource Academia, was acquired and/or taken over by LACAS and termed as a merger. After doing my O-Levels from LACAS Gulberg Senior Boys Campus, I enrolled at LACAS ALJT.
 
I believed that my institute was vigorous, capable of uplifting the morals it so vehemently advocates for, and lived up to its motto, “TO LIVE IN TRUTH”.
 
Alas, this has not come about.
 
I am appalled that the institute has recently fired over 190+ of its staff members amidst the pandemic. This includes teachers from non-essential departments such as sports, alongside with a larger proportion of the custodian staff - without any prior notice. In case, any of the laid-off employees would dare to voice up against the actions or reach out to the authorities, the institute has threatened a complete deprivation of their salaries for the month of July.
 
The administration has maintained an element of plausible deniability, by not making any official statements over the matter as of yet. Even if the institute presumptuously responds with how the pandemic has adversely affected the profits, it begs the question that there has already been a substantial cut in their miscellaneous expenses. These include but are not limited to, cut in utility bills due to no air-conditioning (in classes, halls, libraries, common rooms), printing and stationery expenses, transportation, etc.
 
The outbreak of the COVID-19 has affected the household finances enormously. In such times of uncertainty and financial unrest, many of the families belonging to middle-class backgrounds have now allied with the lower class due to several factors and are finding it hard to pay their dues. Many of the students have felt the impact most directly, with loss of bonus and other incentive pay often followed by furloughs and possibly even temporary or permanent job loss of their parents. The imposition of lockdown has also disrupted daily business activities, not to mention the rising inflation due to the fluctuating exchange rate.
 
The uncertainty is amplified, as LACAS continued to charge fees from all of its students. My grievances also concern how the institute has charged fees from the students of A-2 (Class of 2020), although no online classes have been arranged or offered since March 2020. The institute has charged the fee even for the months of May-June, in which the students were ought to sit in for the Cambridge International Examinations had there been no cancellation of the exams. This implies no role was expected from the school in terms of tutorship (with or without the cancellation of exams) for which they have charged the fee.
 
My grievance and protest also include how the institute increased the penalty charges for late submission of fees.
Before the pandemic, the penalty for late submission was as followed:

 


Days    Amount
1-10      100
11-20    300
  
However, after pandemic the penalty for late submission was revised:

 

Days   Amount
1-10      1000
11-20    3000
 
I am perturbed that these private institutions continue to show no signs of mercy and understanding even at such difficult times. I am perturbed that such institutions affect the lives of so many people with such radically unjust decisions with no signs of impunity whatsoever. I am perturbed that our education system has been corrupted to the very core. I am perturbed that our educationalists have commodified education to an extent where it has become an ordeal for many of us.
 
I have contacted some of the staff members who have confided in me, with absolute transparency and helplessness. Many of the custodian staff members, in particular, are lone breadwinners who had migrated to the city in the hope of a better future and vocation. The sustenance of their families substantially relies on them.
 
I am also aware of the potential ramifications for my action since I have technically not graduated from LACAS, as of yet. There lies risk of me getting bullied, coerced, or be made subject to personal vendetta. Something I have had firsthand experience of in the past.
 
It is deeply concerning how the order of redundancy is in ascendance, while no cuts are being made on the salaries of the executives. I request that every employee asked to leave be granted at least three months severance pay with benefits. These are people who have worked tirelessly and have given their blood, sweat, and tears to the institute.
 
I hope the institute has the wisdom and courage to make these amends and restore serenity, calm, compassion, patience, and justice tempered with mercy.

- Haris Malik