Protest Against Biometric Attendance System

Various arms of the government are trying to implement biometric attendance system to which employees are protesting


Protest against the implementation of biometric attendance system i.e. an attendance system by way of biometric scanning by the workers and unions is underway in the Jhanjhra Area. Jhanjhra is a fully mechanised mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd, situated in Raniganj, district Burdwan in West Bengal. The Khan Mazdoor Karmachari Union (IFTU-Sarwahara) (Mine Workers Employee Union (IFTU-Sarwahara)), has not accepted this system, being installed by the management and has decided to struggle against the installation.

Their pamphlet dated 2 September 2014 titled Bio-Metric Attendance: An attempt to enslave the workers reads:

Despite severe protest by the workers and unions, the Jhanjhra Area Management is implementing an anti-worker biometric attendance system i.e. an attendance system by way of biometric scanning of eyes and the whole face. Apart from this biometric attendance system, there is also a hurried move to install CCTV inside the mines and offices and thereafter, provide the workers GPRS-enabled caps so that the management can keep the workers and employees under continuous strict surveillance…Let’s see why it is necessary for the workers to oppose the biometric attendance and CCTV installation.

First, via this system of attendance, the biometric machine will scan our faces and eyes and keep them online on computer/internet. This fact in itself is illegal, dangerous and worth pondering. Why? Firstly, because the scanned photograph can be, intentionally or unintentionally, misused by any agency (the one that will be privy or have access to the data.). For instance, if any terrorist organization gains access to this data, then it can be used with catastrophic repercussion. We would like to raise the question: in such an eventuality, who will be responsible? The situation accentuates in case of female workers and employees.


It will cast severe question mark on their integrity and respect. Keeping these things in mind only, in a similar instance i.e. Aadhaar Card (Unique Identification System) the Supreme Court gave a verdict, in which, it categorically said that forcibly implementing the biometric identification infringes on the fundamental right of privacy. It is a well established covenant world over that without permission no one, not even the Government, can keep physical identification of a person. The constitution of India, as is well known, prohibits any agency/ management/ institution, whatsoever it may be, from keeping such data as physical identification of a person under its control and access without one’s due permission

Second, we do not know, nor the management has informed us on the radiations emitted by the scanning machine, but, on the other hand, the workers will have to undergo scanning of their faces and eyes twice a day. Who knows what will be the impact of it on our eyes and faces! Whether management has undertaken concrete scientific investigation about it, we do not know this, too. We demand to know who will be responsible for the possible long term deadly after-effects of the Scanning Machine’s radiation.

Third, how it will have impact on the extra time involved for the attendance of the worker.


Let’s assume that there are 100 workers standing in front of the machine to punch-in their attendance, if one worker takes minimum of 30 seconds (though in reality it may take much more), then for the last worker it will take extra 50 minutes to punch-in his/her attendance. That means he/she will have to leave for the work 50 minutes before the schedule. Same will be the case for punch-out. Who will be responsible for this wastage of time and who will compensate for this loss?

Fourth, the confidence of workers is vital. In case of the machine malfunctioning or it being out of order, or if it fails to record attendance even after saying “thank you” i.e. in case of false recording of attendance, and hence in case of attendance dispute arising there from, what proof will the worker have in his possession to claim that he was present?

Fifth, similarly what will happen for driller, dresser, explosive carrier and short firer? As is evident from the design of things appearing through biometric, pressure on them to enhance workload is bound to increase.

Sixth, as is becoming as clear as day light from the above facts, it is ludicrous as to why the management is wasting at all a fortune as big as thousands of lakhs or crores of rupees on installing the biometric system. It has been clarified above that there is no worth, as is being claimed over board by the management, in installing this machine; on the contrary, it is anti-workers, dangerous and one that will fuel unnecessary debate and unrest. Actually the main intention of the ECL managements is to have total control over the life of workers that is simply excessive and unnecessary.

Seventh, one of the arguments given by management is that it will increase production. The motive of installing CCTV inside the mines and offices, too, has to be seen in this light. In reality, the intention of the management is to increase the production by way of excessively pressurising the workers. The truth, however, is that precondition of increasing production is that workers must have a joyful family life. It is vital that the worker gets the necessary 8 hours of leisure, their homes are clean and healthy, they get proper transport and there are such safety measures as are necessary to make the mines safe for the workers. But the management seldom thinks of bringing these qualitative changes in. The management has not been able to even provide clean drinking water to the homes of the workers. Electricity supply is simply pathetic and the workers quarters are such that one cannot even use gas cylinder. The state of cleanliness of their colonies is an open secret. Under such inhuman conditions, how can workers increase production?

Biometric attendance is being implemented in Durgapur Steel Plant too, which is predictably inviting protests. By a Circular No. Pers-CF/BARS/2014/508 dated 11th November, 2014 G Sujatha, AGM (Pers-CS), Durgapur Steel Plant, Steel Authority of India Ltd, has made procedure of Biometric Attendance Recording System mandatory with insuring disciplinary actions. Hindustan Steel Workers Union, Durgapur Steel Plant are protesting against “illegal and illegitimate capturing of fingerprints  of employees and implementation of “Biometric Attendance Recording System” without any lawful authority and in violation of Article-21 of the Constitution of India and other related statutes.” Their letter dated November 17, 2014 to CEO of Durgapur Steel Plant reads:

The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) and Delhi University College Karamchari Union (DUCKU) are protesting against the installation and implementation of Bio Metric Attendance system as well.


(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)

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Why biometric identification of citizens must be resisted? Part I

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Aadhaar: Turning citizens into subjects through social control technology companies –PartXX

Why Kejriwal govt in Delhi should abandon biometric Aadhaar?—Part XXI

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6 years ago
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7 years ago
Newspapers, magazines, channels websites routinely reproduce pamphlets of companies and govt agencies. Reprodduction of official documents has long been part of accepted journalistic practice. A pamphlet is an official document of the trade union. There is a tendency to treat corporate and govt pamplets as gospel truths, but when it comes from workers, unthinking class bias against them manifests itself.

a simple search on the net can reveal that face scan technology are commercially available. face scan technology ranges from software-only solutions that process images processed through existing closed-circuit tv cameras to full fledged acquisition & processing systems, including cameras, workstations, & backend processors. in facial recognition technology, a digital video camera image is used to analyze facial characteristics such as the distance between eyes, mouth or nose. measurements r stored in a database. it is used to compare with a subject standing before a camera.

The submission " (I work for a such organization where our finger prints being used for recording our attendance, We are close to 2L employees, no one protested)" appears logically lame coz it does not explain why parliamentary committee and Supreme Court is also against it besies several countries.

Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer, a people’s judge of the Supreme Court who passed away on December 4 opposed biometric aadhaar . His views have been endorsed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, Supreme Court, Punjab and Haryana High Court and National Human Rights Commission besides European Court of Human Rights, governments of UK, France, Australia, China and Supreme Court of Philippines, the present BJP led government like the previous Congress Party led Government is bulldozing the biometric data based 12 digit Unique Identification (UID) number branded as aadhaar. The Supreme Court's order dated March 24, 2014 reveals that Justice Iyer and his 16 other co-signatories and the workers in Durgapur and Raniganj are right in demanding stoppage of the biometric aadhaar and related projects. It also demonstrates that all the circulars and orders of Government of India and State Governments are illegal and illegitimate. BJP was right during the election campign but is wrong when in power. or is the other way round?

As GPRS enabled cap, a GPRS (general packet radio service) helmet exists with communication positioning module.

the assumption on the uniqueness of biomtrics and the immortality of biological features is far fetched for sure.
Abhijit Jalisatgi
7 years ago
What kind of journalism is this, blindly copy pasting the pamphlet?
First of all we don't even know such "face scanning" technologies commercially available for any one to use it. Already some of the private companies use biometric attendance system, but they are limited to finger print scanning, not face recognition system ( I work for a such organization where our finger prints being used for recording our attendance, We are close to 2L employees, no one protested). Face scanning seems bit far fetched for me. I have only seen it Hollywood movies. It may be true, such technology really being used by mining company.

Then one more gem:"GPRS-enabled caps" Do they even know what is GPRS means? :-)

Thank you ML for making my day.
A S Bhat
7 years ago
what are moneylife's views on the various points raised by workers' union?
ch prakash
7 years ago
Bogus and silly reasons. Don't wish to work sincerely.
Replied to ch prakash comment 7 years ago
Don't say this blindly. You have to go through facts before commenting. My son is working in a well known industry and he says only finger printing is allowed through scanning. The attendance is usually good. What we need is a transformation through education and not by compulsion.
7 years ago
haha coal workers worried about "privacy", "health radiation", "total control over the life of workers", "joyful family life"...

other people are working so hard and honestly paying 33% Income Tax and these guys want joyful family life
Replied to bhaskar comment 7 years ago
I have gone through a report somewhere the situation is reversing in Government jobs. Were you not aware the government wash of its hand if a unit works under loss. Any one can enjoy a family life not necessarily he/she should be a government servant.
7 years ago
Bio metric systems, indeed all laws, for THEM, the non governmental citizen. Not for us, the Sarkar!
7 years ago
They don't want to come to work in time. Infested with dummy workers. They just want to suck the economy dry. They are the real terrorists.
k m rao
7 years ago
The reason for opposing this measure is simple. The employees of PSUs and govt. cannot cheat any more and they will have to work. I wonder whether they will allow the equipment to work.
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