These ATM guards have to buy sanitizer with their own money

COVID-19 Health

Say public sector banks have made no provision.

Security guards manning the ATMs of public sector banks in south Delhi’s Alaknanda Market are distressed as they are forced to buy sanitizers, masks and gloves for themselves.

“My salary is just Rs 9,000. I have to send money to my family back in my village, and pay my rent and run a house here. On top of this, we also have to buy sanitizer for ourselves and the people who visit the ATM,” said Ramjeet Sahu, a security guard at the Punjab National Bank ATM, informed The Observer.

“Almost 100 people visit this ATM daily. As there is no other PNB ATM nearby, most customers come here. Most people ask for sanitizer while coming in and/or going out, and you can’t say no to them. A one-litre sanitizer bottle lasts barely a week. I spend Rs 2,000-2,500 every month just on sanitizer. That’s almost one-fourth of my salary.”

Guards of ATMs of private banks in the market do not have such complaints as the banks have given them sanitizer bottles.

Shiva Kumar, a security guard at ICICI Bank, said the loan department’s keys were left with him at the start of the lockdown. He would get sanitizer and masks from there.

“The loan department has huge bottles of sanitizer and several masks kept in reserve for us. Whenever I run out of sanitizer, or if a mask tears, I go there to refill and replace.”

Raju Pal, a security guard at the State Bank of India ATM, has started selling newspapers on the side to earn an extra buck. “We have not been getting any assistance since the start of the lockdown. No gloves, no masks or sanitizer. I have to buy everything for myself to protect myself. Reading the news and hearing ambulance sirens… this second wave is terrifying.”

Bupati Suvedi, an office boy at SBI, Kalkaji, said: “We don’t have a role to play here. Everything is managed by the company we have a contract with. If they do not provide sanitizer, we can’t do anything.”

Several state governments and municipal corporations have mandated public and private banks, and security contractors, to provide hand sanitizers, surface disinfectants and masks to security guards. 

Recently, the Rajasthan government and the Salem municipal corporation published guidelines to protect manned ATM guards and control the spread of virus. Those found flouting the rules have been asked to close the kiosks.

Security guards in the national capital are demanding that a similar rule to be imposed so that they can protect themselves without burning a hole in their pockets. 

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