Biometric Attendance Irks Himachal Secretariat Employees

Shimla: Not pay commission arrears, or anomalies in pay structure but it is adoption of newer technology that is in the eye of the storm of government employees at the secretariat here, as the newly installed biometric machines disturb a laid back order and ensure reporting for work on time.

A lunch break employee union gate meeting, called on Friday (16th July) to demand for release of pay arrears and point out discrimination in house rent allowance among lower and higher categories of employees, turned out to be one at which speaker after speaker spoke against the harassment the biometric machines had become.

As Manmohan Jassal, president secretariat employees union, started raising the regular demands, a women employee interrupted his speech and asked the leader to settle the issue of usage of biometric machines for marking presence.

Raising her voice above the crowd, she said “Whereas all of us are reporting for work by registering our finger imprints on time at the biometric machines, senior IAS officers are not doing so and the union has failed to lodge a protest in the matter.”

Joining the issue another said, “even a two minute delay at reporting time has to be made up by working an extra half hour in the evening.”

Soon others joined in and the 20 minute meeting discussed nothing else but the machines.

Jassal said the machines had become an harassment for the employees, Rajinder Sharma, general secretary of the union said that they had a software problem and still another leader demanded that the secretariat administration make a disclosure as to how many officers reported and left on time as per the biometric machine records since were installed.

The meeting disbanded after resolving to boycott the machines on 2nd and 3rd August, unless the machine software was not made more flexible, the officers also be asked to report at the machines and their reporting time since June be disclosed. The employees have sought intervention of the chief minister in the matter.

While chief secretary Ahsa Swaroop, who was instrumental in introducing the technology, maintains that have been installed to improve work culture, Ajay Bhandari principal secretary secretariat administration said that after spending so much money, the reform cannot be undone.

Meanwhile, emboldened by the results of the new attendance reporting system, the government has drawn up plans to expand installing the technology at IGMC Hospital, state electricity board headquarters and other offices that have a large force of employees.

On opening day, 1st June, Abhay Shukla, additional chief secretary, was among the first to log in at 9.52 a.m. at one of the 12 machines that were installed to record the incoming and outgoing timings of 32 IAS, 14 HAS officers, 58 class I officers and about 1,400 other employees.

Photo by: Lalit Kumar

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

9 Comments

  • Rules should be same for every level of employee and even MLAs and ministers.

    I wonder who tracks the rules for those who make and administer the rules.

    Law is equal for everyone.

  • I agree to you that rules should be same for all if biometric is implemented than it should be for all ..if the higher officer in the building is maintaining the discipline of coming on the time and marking his presence before the login time, i dont see any reason to have any employee complaining over the machine ..

    In school we are taught to come on time, why can’t we maintain it while doing our jobs, there is no doubt that disciplined working culture in govt office will lead to a better india.

  • In the faces of most Secretariat employees, I see a deep cunning creature full of complexes who takes sadistic pleasure by delay and defer tactics. Non-transferable job has made them real rulers in the state where public duty is seen as the sole prerogative.
    Ask any person who visit Secretariat from different departments/professions, all hold a similar opinion about the work culture and harassment. Less education/compassionate/low end job makes the situation more complex. Negative mindset does not allow them to see a larger world so their main work is to find objections.
    Gate meetings are one of the great example of their open challenge to IAS/HAS/Govt.
    I firmly believe that people will not be tolerating it for more days from now.

  • It is always the case in this world.
    Slavery is another word I can put it to use.
    All the worker in the Secretariat are slave to their bosses.
    The IAS/HAS/Govt. officers are not to be questioned by the lower staff.
    So stop barking in the street and do what ever the system wanted them to work.
    Let them not forget that they are paid for sitting in the office not for attendence.
    If the bosses does not know the work then how the slaves works.
    Only the God should give them the mind. They should comes to their sences.

  • Indians are in habit of following IST ..means Indian stretchable time .
    completed my graduation from foreign university , Indians were most laughed peoples due to there late comings to classes and lectures. One of my professor who visited india around 20 times he said you guys follows IST ……So after returning to India i also got fed up of this IST following but now getting habitual.. because in most of the meeting etc I am the lonely fool sitting and waiting and i glad that this biometric system at least going to bring some change in us .I would like to request to the govt. to implement in each and every institution where work force is more than 50 .

  • HP Secretariat employees holding gate rallies against the implementation of Biometric machine shows that they still want to enjoy (IST) the old method of attendance recording system .The arrears etc.are released by the Govt. to the employees from time to time according to the financial position of this hilly state for which an employee should wait after all we have elected the Govt.and have some responsibilities towards the Govt. I strongly belief that these machines should be installed in all offices / Govt.institutions Educational offices at tehsil level also.Annual budget can be allocated by the HODs.Some foolproof monitoring system should also be installed at panchayat level or involve some private agencies.

  • People of Himachal will appreciate steps taken by Govt. of Himachal Pradesh to improve work culture around Govt. offices by implementing Bio metric technologies. This will be not only helpful in terms of productivity but help in numerous ways. However it will cost to regular defaulters and teaches the wonderful lesson to value of time which unfortunately they forget taught by their teacher during school days.My suggestion is to implement this system in each and every Govt. organization even at Panchyat level. Let’s be work together for happy and prosperous Himachal.

  • This step of installing biometric machines in HP Secretariat is appreciable step taken by the government and the employees instead of shouting and doing gate meetings should adhere to it…… when govt is paying….. it has the right to have a check on its employees

  • The rally was not against machine. It was against the software which was introduced without consulting association. After the withdrawl has anybody complained. There was nothing wrong to demand arrears as the same was paid to IAS officers.

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