Karthik Madhavan

Conservancy workers plan protest on March 30

ERODE: A majority of the conservancy workers in Erode Municipality are upset with the new attendance monitoring system that was introduced recently.

The civic body in the beginning of March put up an electronic system in which conservancy workers and others have to flash identity cards in front of card readers to mark attendance. The municipality designed it in such a way that the reader also notes the time of flashing the card, which carries a number unique for each worker.

Trial basis

It has installed the readers in 17 places - 15 of its divisional offices, one at malaria eradication centre and another at drivers' shelter. At present, the monitoring system is only on a trial basis, though.

Conservancy workers say they fear losing attendance if the machine malfunctions. "After toiling in the hot sun, we fear losing a day's attendance if something goes wrong with the machine, something most of us do not know given out poor or nil education," says a worker on condition of anonymity.

They add that what also worries them is the present system of marking attendance four times a day - between 5.30 a.m. and 6 a.m., between 10.30 a.m. and 11 a.m., between 2.30 p.m. and 3 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The argument they put forth is this: Considering that a worker is working far away from the card reader, how can he or she rush to mark the attendance within the given time? This is impossible, they add.

Erode Municipality sources defend saying the conservancy workers are ill informed. Terming it as a resistance to a new system, they say, "They are afraid because the card reader also notes the time, which will reveal a worker's time of reporting for duty." They add that the system will be made fool-proof and include provisions to take note of leave, deployment elsewhere, etc.

Municipality sources further point out that not even the Commissioner is out of this attendance system. At the municipal office, it is not just the card reader alone but also a biometric that tracks attendance.

The civic body has installed the new system at a cost of Rs. 9.3 lakh. The workers, however, are not buying the argument.

They plan to protest against the system on March 30 and strike work on April 2.