After Railways, MTC makes vaccination must for staff

Those who skip it without medical reason can’t get special leave if they catch virus

Days after circulars issued by Southern Railway and the Integral Coach Factory, asking staff to take the COVID-19 vaccine or proceed on leave triggered a controversy, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation, Chennai, has asked its employees to compulsorily get the jab.

In a circular issued on Monday, the MTC’s general manager said that if employees failed to take the vaccine without a doctor’s approval for any specific medical reason, they would not be entitled to special medical leave if they test positive for COVID-19. He said the Transport Department was a service sector working directly with the people.

Drivers and conductors had to be in close proximity to thousands of people on a daily basis, he said. “With the onset of the second wave of COVID-19, the State government has advised compulsory vaccination — either Covishield or Covaxin — for all those aged 45 and above to protect them from the virus,” he said.

‘Sensitise staff’

Senior officials, supervisors and others were told to sensitise employees aged 45 and above and take steps to ensure that they get vaccinated. All transport employees should wear masks, maintain physical distance and follow other safety norms, the official said.

Centre of Indian Trade Unions Transport Federation general secretary Arumuga Nainar said it was not correct on the part of the management to force the staff to get the jab.

Instead, awareness camps should be organised to educate the employees on the benefits of vaccination, and they should be persuaded to take the vaccine, he said.

“The vaccination drive covering the 18,000-strong workforce should be planned in such a way that an employee gets the jab the day before his/her weekly off. In case anyone develops fever or pain, an additional day’s rest or leave should be allowed. The same pattern of vaccination should be followed for all State Transport Undertakings,” Mr. Nainar said.

After the Railways issued a similar order, the All India Railwaymen’s Federation protested against the move and urged the general manager of Southern Railway and the Integral Coach Factory to withdraw the circulars, arguing that there was no provision to force employees to get vaccinated.

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