In the Covid pandemic situation, while a key section of the India Post employees, especially the delivery staffs (Postmen) and Gramin Dak Sewaks (GDS) are moving from door to door with biometric/ handheld devices for delivery of letters and payment of money through AePS, another section (counter and frontline staff) are directly dealing with the customers in a vulnerable condition without proper PPE kits and, thus, chances of infections by these employees are more.
Since nearly 90% post offices are operated single-handedly, they are deprived of roster arrangements with reduced staff strength. Biometric transactions are performed and direct door delivery of accountable mails obtaining physical signatures of the customers is being done
which do impose a threat of spreading the virus. The guidelines issued by MHA, Government of India are not applicable to the operative employees in true sense on the plea of essential service. Thus, not only the employees alone, but their 5 lakh families are directly neglected.
While the activities of banking sector are limited to financial transactions only, insurance sector works are limited to insurance businesses only and private courier services works are meant for mail business only, India Post alone carries all such businesses of savings bank, insurance and mails. This apart, it has also facilitated the customers hundreds of additional services under one platform as Common Service Centre.
But most regretfully, there is gross disparity between the employees of India Post and that of other sectors. These poor operative employees of India Post are treated with step motherly attitude even during the pandemic situation. Five working days in a week is a dream for them despite struggle by the staff side. Even for vaccination purpose, the postal employees are kept outside the priority list.
Despite Health Ministry’s direction to organize Covid-19 vaccination sessions at workplaces (both public and private) which are having about 100 eligible and willing beneficiaries by tagging these workplaces with an existing Covid Vaccination Center (CVC), no such action has yet been taken by the Department.
These employees are finding out ways and means to be vaccinated oftheir own. Adding salt to wounds, the death claim compensation of Rs10 lakh due to Covid which was initially declared by the Government to postal employees including the GDS was subsequently withdrawn. The Central Government has not yet recognised them as frontline Covid warriors.
Though India Post has witnessed more than 200 death cases till now, neither any compensation nor employment to one of the eligible family members of the deceased employee is considered with priority.
Against the backdrop, there is an urgent need to identify thededicated workforce of India Post as Covid Warrior and provide themall the facilities as applicable for other Covid frontline workers.
(Samal is chairman, National Federation of Postal Employees, Odisha State Coordination Committee, Mob: 9437022669)