The Telegraph
Friday , August 22 , 2014
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Biometric strike in mine

Durgapur, Aug. 21: Over 1,500 miners and clerical staff of an Eastern Coalfields Ltd mine struck work for three days to protest the company’s decision to replace the manual attendance system with a biometric one to prevent proxy attendance.

The ceasework at Jhanjra Colliery near Durgapur, ECL’s largest mine by output, was lifted today after the management assured an umbrella organisation of ECL unions that the biometric system would be introduced in all mines in phases.

ECL sources said the biometric attendance system, in which an employee’s retina is checked, was introduced as a section of workers marked themselves as present even though they remained absent and manipulated entry time in collusion with some attendance clerks.

The striking workers had demanded that the company would either have to revert to the manual attendance system or start the biometric procedure at all 105 mines together. Because of the three-day ceasework at Jhanjra, which produces 4,500 tonnes of coal a day, ECL lost Rs 6.7 crore, company sources said.

Senior trade union leaders of ECL’s Joint Consultative Committee, the umbrella organisation of all trade unions at the company, intervened today and held a meeting with the management, following which the ceasework was withdrawn in the afternoon.

“The strike was withdrawn today and we have told the union leaders that the new system will be introduced in all the three units of Jhanjra Colliery within a month. In the rest of the mines, biometric attendance will be started in phases,” said Niladri Roy, the general manager (technical) of ECL.

The INTTUC general secretary of ECL, Hareram Singh, said there was “confusion” among the miners, which was “sorted out” today.

“The workers had demanded that ECL would have to introduce the biometric attendance system in all its mines together, and not only in Jhanjra,” Singh said.

According to the ECL sources, many workers skip duty but mark themselves present. The workers also come late but put the wrong entry time. “All this is done in collusion with a section of clerks. Such malpractices will not be possible if the biometric system is in place,” an official said.