Mumbai: Security guards at ATMs and banks bear the brunt of demonetisation

Updated: Dec 03, 2016, 19:45 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty |

With people thronging ATMs and banks, it's the security guards working 15-hour days at the kiosks who are feeling short-changed

It has been a hard day's night for ATM security guard Sudhir Shukla (name changed) ever since November 8, when PM Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation. Shukla, who guards an ATM in Bandra East, has been working for 15 hours a day for close to a month. Just like him, guards at 25,000-odd ATMs in the city have had longer working hours and little to no sleep.

Following this, All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) has written a complaint to the Finance Ministry and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) asking them to take action over it. AIBEA secretary Vishwas Utagi said, "It is really inhumane... They are working for 15-17 hours due to the pressure on ATMs because of demonetisation."

Short-staffed
"Citizens are flocking to ATMs to withdraw money round the clock and it is compulsory for all ATMs to keep one guard 24/7. So, as the contractors who are given responsibility of the guards are short of staffers to handle an emergency situation like this one, guards are forced to work extra," added Utagi.

There are around 24,829 ATMs machines in Mumbai but only half of them have the manpower to provide rotating shifts for guards.

No time for home
Some of the guards are forced to sleep inside ATM booths at night when the rush is less. Many are also falling ill. The same goes for Shukla, who stays in a shanty in Bandra but hardly gets the time to go home.

"Earlier, I worked from 10 am to 8 pm. But now, my hours are 9 am to 2 am. So, I sleep in the booth," he said.

"We can't leave the machine as all kinds of people get inside. If anything happens to the ATM in our absence, we will be held responsible."

Target of mob fury
Many ATMs are still not dispensing money, thus agitating citizens. And guards are bearing the brunt of this fury.

"When citizens in need of money see that ATMs aren't functioning, guards have to face their anger. When citizens are forced to stand in a queues for hours under the sun, and during chaos, the guards are abused," said Utagi.

8,920
Number of private ATMs in the city

14,132
Number of public sector banks ATMs in the city

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