Scared by alarming increase of +ve employees, various bodies call for reducing strength in offices

Govt urged to adopt work from home system without delay

Avtar Bhat

JAMMU, Apr 27: With unprecedented surge in COVID cases in the UT of J&K over last one week, the Government is under constant pressure to reduce the strength of employees in the offices by 50 percent after adopting the online working system.
Though the UT Government’s decision to put on hold the annual Darbar Move this year to summer capital, Srinagar has been termed a good step by some trade union leaders and employees in general, the demand for curtailing the strength of employees in all Government offices in UT by 50 percent and initiating the online working system is gaining momentum day by day after there is alarming rise in both active cases of COVID and death rate.
The Trade Union leaders heading various employees’ bodies while pressing for the demand said curtailing the attendance by 50 percent in all Government offices will virtually control the spread of pandemic to a great extent in the UT and the employees will not be exposed to the risk of pandemic. They said as the online system of working has now become common in private sector across the globe with employees of almost all private companies adopting work from home over the last one year after the COVID took the entire world in its grip why this system can’t be adopted in the Government offices of J&K UT.
They said that by adopting work from home in this pandemic time, the working in office will not suffer in case any employee is tested positive for COVID. They said as the dreaded pandemic is spreading rapidly and as per the Government reports a single positive case can affect over 400 persons it is imperative that from other measures the strength of staff in Government and public sector be reduced constantly till the threat is reduced to lowest ebb.
Even the employees engaged in the departments dealing with Essential Commodities like Health, PHE and Power can also work from home and there is no need of them to go to office daily while the employees of other offices can also easily work from home who don’t have public dealing and this way the chain of pandemic can be reduced to a great extent, they added.
Even the private sector offices in the UT can be asked to start work from home till the threat is over and the Government should issue orders in this regard immediately, they said adding any delay in this regard can have worst consequences.
The trade unionists said that when the judiciary can work online from home why not the other Government departments including, Education, J&K Board, Horticulture, Agriculture, PDD, PHE, Sericulture, R&B, RDD, Forests etc.
They said that in the Education Department 50 percent teachers have been asked to attend schools why not in other departments. Even there is no need for 50 percent teachers to attend schools because they too can work online from their respective homes as every one has an internet facility now.
It may be recalled that District Development Commissioner, Leh in the UT of Ladakh has issued orders that all district offices and sub offices will work at home by reducing the staff strength to 50 percent. If this is possible in Leh which is not so populous as Jammu and Srinagar districts or other districts of the J&K why can’t be the decision applied in this UT? they asked.
Strongly advocating for reducing the employees strength by half and adopting online working system, Mohammed Maqbool president Jammu and Kashmir Coordination Committee of Trade Unions (CCTU) termed the situation alarming and out of control in the country as a whole. He even demanded imposition of lockdown and alleged that the Government is more concerned for economic activities than saving the lives of the people. He also alleged that Government was not taking essential measures for frontline workers and demanded that the attendance be reduced in offices even by 75 percent and online work system be adopted. If the situation goes out of control the Government should immediately announce lockdown, he added.
Supporting his views, Suresh Sharma spokesperson Government Employees Joint Action Forum (GEJAF) strongly advocated for reducing the strength of employees in offices and adopting of work at home system. The employees must be asked to attend duties on rotational basis to avert the COVID threat, he added.
He, however, termed the decision of closing Darbar move as a good step and said on the same basis steps be taken for the subordinate offices in both UTs keeping in view the safety of Government employees.
Mir Ghulam Rasool, a Trade Union leader and former general secretary Low Paid Employees Federation (LPEF) while supporting the demand also urged the Government to ban the social , political and religious gathering for the time being till the alarming situation created in the country is controlled. He said these measures be taken on war footing basis to take the fight against the dreaded COVID to a logical conclusion.
Gurmeet Singh general secretary, CCTU, M K Tickoo and R K Razdan president and general secretary, All Displaced Kashmiri Employees Forum (ADKEF) respectively and Babu Hussain Malik UT president Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) have also urged the Government to ensure safety of the employees who are vulnerable to COVID threat in case the attendance is not reduced in offices and work from home is not adopted. They said the situation for the Government and public sector employees especially women employees have also become grave since the transport strike as those having not their own conveyences are worst sufferers and they have to go by foot for miles together.