With COVID-19 cases rising in the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now made it mandatory for all its staff to report to work.
Earlier, the BMC was working at 50% strength following government guidelines. Differently-abled staffers and those over 55 years with co-morbidities have been exempted from field duties.
The move comes after COVID-19 claimed its first victim in the BMC this week. A 49-year-old assessment inspector from G North ward engaged in food distribution in Dharavi tested positive following his death.
‘Need more manpower’
The BMC, in its order, said, “It was observed that 50% attendance made it difficult to implement measures for COVID-19. The previous order has been cancelled and 100% attendance has been made mandatory. Large-scale manpower is needed to man COVID-19 care centres and containment zones.”
The BMC has directed all assistant commissioners to book hotel rooms for employees engaged in providing essential services. The civic body has formulated room tariffs to be adhered to while booking hotel rooms. Taj group of hotels has agreed to house BMC employees at Taj Mahal Palace at ₹2,000 per room, including meals and laundry service. The decision has been taken as most employees live in the suburbs and struggle to commute to work.
Employees living in areas outside Mumbai limits such as Panvel, Vasai, Badlapur, and Asangaon have been allowed to work from their nearest ward offices. They will be engaged in contact tracing, quarantine centre management, upgrading municipal hospitals or pre-monsoon work. The ward offices will submit reports to the respective departments the employees belong to.
Pay cuts for absentees
The BMC said memos will be issued to employees who remain absent. Salary will be cut if they still fail to report to work and action will be taken under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. This rule will not apply to staffers who report sick.
The order has exempted 60% of BMC staff who are above 55 years with diabetes, hypertension and kidney ailments. Those who continue to work will get a daily allowance of ₹300.
However, employees’ unions are unhappy with the move. Sainath Rajyadhyaksha, president, Municipal Engineers’ Union, said, “The Centre has exempted all employees above 50 years, then why has the BMC set the limit at 55?”
Charter of demands
The union has written to the BMC commissioner with demands such as declaring staff who die of COVID-19 as ‘martyrs’, giving compensation and jobs to their families, testing of all frontline workers, rotational duty, and insurance cover of ₹1 crore for all employees.