HARD TALK: Media Houses And The Time Attendance Device (Clock In, Clock Out System): An Observation

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One of the most notable achievements of the Okowa Administration is the sanitization and re-invigoration of the State Civil Service.

The biometric exercise carried out by Heckerbella is reported to have eliminated significant wastage and brought the monthly wage bill to a manageable size.

Since the introduction of the Time and Attendance Device (Clock in, clock out system) into the Local Government Councils and Public Schools, staff attendance and performance have also improved significantly.

The introduction of the Device to the State Civil Service, Ministries, Parastatals and Agencies is a very welcome development. The State Governor, the Head of Service and the Civil Service Commissions (State and Local) should indeed be commended for all the positive steps taken to improve the performance of the workforce in the State.

No well meaning worker, union or management will dispute the good intentions of government or feign ignorance of the achievements recorded so far.

THE CONCERN:

However, an area of concern, and to which I honestly seek the understanding of the operators of the Time and Attendance Device is the application of the system as presently configured to Media Houses in the State.

Now that the machines have been sent to DBS, Asaba and Warri as well as Pointer Newspapers, I strongly feel there is need to look into the implications of the Device as configured and how its application will impact on the operational system of these media houses.

The purpose of this discourse is not in any way to suggest an exemption, but to facilitate an adaptability which will remove any encumbrances that could affect the smooth operation of the media houses and the welfare of staff as well.

From the little knowledge I have of the clock in, clock out machine, it is configured to cater for the core civil service work pattern of 8am (clock in time) to 4pm (clock out time). The challenge I want the operators to now address is the application of the devise to the 24 hour/weekends/public holidays shift work pattern of media houses which varies from the core civil service.

In Delta Broadcasting Service, Warri, for instance, we have several shift patterns.

1) The 3 shift a day operated by Presenters and Programme Staff. (5am to 11am) (11am to 5pm) (5pm to 12 midnight).

2) Day and Night shifts (8am to 6pm) (6pm to 8am) operated by ICT Staff to ensure 24 hour broadcast.

3) Day and Night Shifts operated by Engineering Staff.

4) Morning and Evening shifts (9am-5pm) (5pm to 9pm) operated by Radio/TV Editors in the Newsroom.

5) Reporters who work undefined hours, morning till night as determined by the nature of assignments (News Coverages) that arise day by day.

As a result of these shift pattern , staff are given off days which could be on week days because they work weekends and public holidays .It is also important to note that the organization also has outstation staff who function as reporters or marketers in Asaba, Abuja and Lagos, among other places.

THE GREY AREAS:

What is agitating the mind of many staff of the media organization now is how to adapt the mode of operation to the clock in, clock out device system. The feelings can be put in the following questions :

(1) If my shift is to resume work at 5pm, and to close at midnight, would I have to come to the office at 8am to clock in, go home and come back, or stay in the office to clock out at 4pm before resuming my normal duties at 5pm?.

(2) What happens if am on night shift and so did not clock in at morning; would it reflect that came to work.?.

(3) Suppose as a journalist, i clocked in and went for an assignment that did not end before 4pm and i was not able to get back to office clock out, how will i be assessed?.

(4) If my off days fall on week days and i did not come to office to clock in, what happens to me?.

(5) What if i come at 8 and clock in, wait till 4pm, clock out and go home, while my regular shift work of night was not done, would i be queried?.

These are some of the questions agitating the minds of many of our media workers since the introduction of the clock in machines. The fear is whether they will have their salaries cut or not paid even after doing their regular shifts but miss clock in because of time variation.

MY HUMBLE SUGGESTIONS:

I strongly think it is important that these fears are addressed and a clear explanation made on how the clock in system as presently configured will apply to media workers.

I acknowledge that we do have some truants and undisciplined workers in the media houses, and as such there is need for measures to sanitize the system. But such measures should be sensitive to the mode of operation of the Media Houses.
I also do not think it is good for the hard working majority to be subjected to suffering as a result of the excesses of a minority.

The way it stands, with the clock in system now, staff of media houses may have no option than to be coming to office several times in one day, to clock in and out and then for their normal shift, or alternatively, stay in the office for very long hours.

This would be too much for media workers who are presently truly under paid for the intensity of work they do. Additional transport and feeding costs in very stressful economy is not what to subject any worker to now.

I would therefore plead with the operators of the Time and Attendance Device and all other relevant authorities to take all these factors into cognizance as the clock in clock out system begins in Media Houses across the State.

Pastor Malcolm Oteri, is Deputy General Manager, News, DBS Warri, Delta state.

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