Regional Joint Consultative Machinery
Odisha Postal Circle
At : Ashoknagar Mukhya Dak Ghar, Bhubaneswar – 751 009
Leader (Staff Side)
Mobile : 9437022669
Dusmanta Kumar Sethi
Secretary (Staff Side)
Friday, 27 March 2020
Appeal of RJCM (Staff Side), Odisha Circle to the Chief PMG on COVID-19
D O No. OD / RJCM-COVID-19/2020
Dated at Bhubaneswar the 27th March, 2020
This has a kind reference to the Directorate letter No. letter No.Z-92011 / 25 / 2020 / Coord / O&M, dated 25.03.2020 and 26.03.2020 circulated to all concerned vide Circle Office letter No. DOP/Odisha/COVID-19/2020, dated 25.03.2020 and 26.03.2020 regarding handling of situation and disruption on account of COVID-19.
2. While the instructions on issuing Curfew Pass and providing transportation facility to the staff brought on duty are very clear in the Directorate letter dated 25.03.2020, the particulars of essential services to be provided are not clear. While Circle Office simply forwarded the letter to all Regional / Divisional Heads, in turn the latter also forwarded to the Post Offices for information and necessary action.
3. Para-2 (ii) of the Annexure to has instructed to ensure booking of Speed Post, Regd. Post, Parcels etc keeping in view the availability mode of flights trains etc. But subsequently, letters issued by Circle Office and Divisional Heads are silent with regard to transmission of the booked articles. In the absence of clear instructions, now we witness that Circle Office is entertaining public complaints in this regard and compelling the post offices for booking of articles without assessing the reality. It is not under stood what is the benefit in providing such facilities in the name of essential services when the booked articles have no further disposal except deposit either in the Post Office or in the hubs.
4. While ordering for opening of all delivery post offices with minimum staff and minimum number of counters vide Para – 3 (i) and (ii) of Directorate letter dated 26.03.2020, Circle office did not clear the position of single-handed delivery post offices in this context.
5. While it is instructed vide Para – 3 (i) and (ii) of Directorate letter dated 26.03.2020 to give priority for delivery of essential items such as medicines, medical instruments, mask, gloves food packets etc, through window delivery system, it is not understood how the officials on duty will detect the contents inside the wrapper/packet.
6. Similarly for adopting traditional delivery method, though it has been instructed to ensure appropriate preventive measures for postmen vide Para – 3 (iii) of Directorate letter dated 26.03.2020, both the Circle administration and Divisional administration have seriously failed to provide such materials to the post offices. While Para – 3 (vi) of the said letter has emphasized for provision of hand sanitizer, soap, mask, hand gloves etc with clear instruction to the Circle Heads to take their own decision for providing these items, we do regret that the action taken by Odisha Circle is not at all satisfactory in spite of a series of letters written by the Staff Side, especially by NFPE Odisha State CoC and AIPEU, Group-C, Odisha Circle in addition to personal discussions in this regard to appraise at least the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of Odisha to arrange supply for the same. Most unfortunately, not a single letter was responded.
7. In contrary to the above guidelines in addition to the instructions of the DoPT to adopt preventive measures to contain the spread of corona virus, the Postal Department has ordered to open all the Head Post Offices, Delivery Post Offices, Branch Post Offices (146968 post offices in toto out of 155531) which are manned by nearly 5 lakh employees. In Odisha, out of 8172 post offices in toto all the 6976 Rural Branch Post Offices and all bigger offices like Mukhya Dak Ghar, Head Post Office, General Post Office etc numbering 220 are ordered to be kept open. While use of biometric devices has been dispensed with by Govt. of India, in a recent order issued by the Department on 25.03.2020, the Department has emphasized to ensure financial transactions in biometric mode and for booking and delivery of accountable articles. It is needless to intimate that as many as 25000 postal employees working in 8172 post offices across the state of Odisha will now get the opportunity to interact with hundreds of customers daily in each post office at the counters and handle lakhs of mails coming from various sources including foreign mails both in Post and RMS Offices in a hazardous condition and now in the present scenario they are quite vulnerable to the Novel Corona Virus. This is the condition of 5 lakh postal employees and workers working in 1.55 lakh post offices across the country interacting with lakhs of customers and handling crores of domestic, national and international mails with dust and unknown viruses.
8. Moreover, at this critical juncture when there is absence of any transport facility including Railways / Airways / State and Private Transports ceasing the transmission of mails completely, booking of article is meaningless. When ATM is provided with cash in every nook and corner and even in Post Offices and when the ATM Cards issued both the banks and post offices can be used interchangeably in post offices and banks, there is no need to open any Post Office in the name of essentiality in service for effecting cash withdrawals.
9. In addition, the preventive materials are not available in the local market on one hand and no post office has yet been supplied with such materials on the other as guided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, UNICEF, WHO and several orders issued by Govt. of India through DoPT. The departmental orders to arrange for Curfew Pass, transportation facility to bring the officials to office are just in pen and paper since impracticable. We seriously fail to sanitize the Post Offices and thermal scanning of both the customers and staff members. The employees are working without mask, gloves, etc and thus quite vulnerable to spread the deadly virus which directly contradicts the appeal of the Hon’ble Prime Minister for maintaining social distancing and to stay at home.
10. Thus, with deep concern during this national crisis when the growth rate of the affected cases in corona virus is increasing day by day in India, we would like to say that the whole activities of the post offices now ordered vide above Directorate / Circle Office letters directly contradict the social distancing which is the need of the hour and being emphasized by both the Central and State Governments by complete lockdown of the entire nation for next 21 days from 24.03.2020 midnight to contain the spread of COVID-19. As a result, these offices, if not locked down may become the maternity home for COVID-19 and the sincere efforts taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 both by the Govt. of Odisha and Central Govt. may be futile.
Under the circumstances, on behalf of the entirety of postal employees and workers of Odisha Circle, we would like to sincerely appeal you for immediate review of the position and appraising the case suitably to the Directorate to take immediate action for complete lockdown of Post and RMS offices till restoration of normalcy or otherwise to contain the spread of COVID-19.
History may not excuse us Sir, if the post offices turn into the breeding houses of COVID-19.
With profound regards
Leader (Staff Side)
Sj. Subash Chandra Barmma
The Chief Postmaster General – Cum - Chairman
Regional Joint Consultative Machinery
Odisha Circle, Bhubaneswar – 751 001