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Chandigarh: Withdraw orders to wear GPS watches or we’ll protest, say safai karamcharis

Sanitation workers argue that after wearing the watches, they were getting a sensation of “whirling” and feeling giddy.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | December 1, 2020 8:38:15 am
Chandigarh, Chandigarh news, Chandigarh sanitation workers, GPS watch controversy, Indian ExpressGarbage collectors show their GPS watches during a protest near the municipal corporation building in Chandigarh. (Express Photo: Kamleshwar Singh)

Safai karamcharis have yet again threatened to hold a protest if the orders to wear GPS watches are not rolled back. President of the Safai Karamcharis’ Union Krishan Kumar Chadha stated that they have given a fortnight’s time to officials. Earlier too, the protest was called off on the assurance that the matter will be looked into.

“We have been told that the MOH is infected with COVID. He was supposed to have a meeting with us on the issue. We give a fortnight’s time. If the orders are not rolled back, we will protest and not lift garbage,” he said.

Chadha stated that if the assurance given last time when the protest was lifted is not kept then consequences will have to be faced.

“We will shut down the city and won’t collect any garbage. Neither our sweepers will sweep nor any waste will be lifted if our demand is not met,” he said.

Few days ago, safai karamcharis protested against the MC’s order of wearing GPS watches.

In February too, the sanitation workers had argued that after wearing the watches, they were getting a sensation of “whirling” and feeling giddy.

The employees in a communication had also stated that “their workers can even die” after wearing these watches and it affects their privacy as there were attempts to make them “bonded labour”.

In a written communication to the municipal commissioner, the union said that there are employees that have suffered swelling as well. “These watches are affecting the health of the sanitation workers. We are getting complaints of many who have suffered swelling on their wrists, getting vomiting and whirling sensation. A worker can die. Municipal Corporation is treating the employees like slaves,” the written statement said.

Why are GPS watches courting controvery in Chandigarh?

The civic body has obtained these watches on rent. The rent of all 4,000 watches will cost Rs 18.68 lakh to the corporation every month (rent of one watch is Rs 467, including GST) and an amount of Rs 2.24 crore will be incurred every year.

It was said that the objective of the GPS-enabled wrist watches was to record attendance of field staff shift-wise, prevent and control misuse of manual attendance system, maintain transparency, accountability in operations and weed out the fake, duplicate and false workers. However, certain councillors raised the issue that the watches were giving faulty locations. It was said that locations were being shown at far-flung places in Uttarakhand too even as the employee was in Chandigarh.

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