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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

GPS To Track Movements Of Employees

In first of its kind, Mapusa Municipal Council (MMC) has reportedly decided to make use of Global Positioning System (GPS) to track the movement of its employees including the labourers (NT December 1). A GPS based tracking system in the form of an ID card or a wristband with a sensor chip embedded in it is expected to keep a tab on the civic staff. The question to be asked is how effective will this method be. There is every possibility of the ID card or the wristband being left behind in the drawer of the working table or in the municipal vehicle in the case of a labourer. The GPS will obviously show that the employee is at work when in reality it may not be the case. It is pertinent to note that to track the movement of cattle the censor chip is embedded under the skin of the animal. This is not possible in case of humans. The good old, time-tested, method of maintaining a ‘movement register’ along with the services of a supervisor and even CCTV surveillance appears to be the best available method for keeping a tab on the staff.

ADELMO FERNANDES, VASCO

Abolition Of Slavery

The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is celebrated every year on December 2. Though the practice of engaging bonded labour has been criminalised in India, but unfortunately it is yet to be totally wiped out. According to 2018 Global Slavery report as many as 351 out of 743 spinning mills in Tamil Nadu engage bonded labourers who have no freedom of movement or access to phone.

In Rajasthan many workers have reportedly been trapped in lifelong debt bondage for loans ranging from astronomical 24 to 36 per cent interest rate. They have to work as bonded labourers for little or no pay at all. There are instances of intergenerational transfer of debt as it is a common practice for immediate kin to replace an old and ailing worker. Debt bondage has reportedly been used for sexual torture. The bridge between advance payment and slavery also exists in brick kilns in Odisha and Punjab. Even poor people are forced to use their kidneys as collateral for money lenders in some parts of our country.  It is horrifying to see construction workers are doing life-threatening jobs without having minimum safety protection and insurance coverage. On other hand, the NGO Safai Karmachari Andolan has estimated that one sanitation worker die every third day in our country.

More and more we are heading from formal employment system to contractual employment anarchy. And this has enhanced the scope of exploitation like withholding of wages, debt bondage, holiday hijacking and even physical and sexual torture.

SUJIT DE, KOLKATA

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