New Delhi: Striking for nearly four months, Anganwadi workers and helpers in Haryana finally emerged victorious, the union leaders claimed after the latest talks between them and the state government achieved a breakthrough. Due to this development, the statewide strike action is to be called off for now.
On Monday, a delegation of the state coordination committee of Anganwadi workers and helpers, the umbrella group spearheading the all-women workforce’s strike in Haryana, met with the officials of state’s Women and Child Department (WCD).
“The delegation was told by the director that the service of all the dismissed Anganwadi workers and helpers would be restored by the department and [also] discussed not taking any [further] punitive action [against the Anganwadi caregivers],” the joint committee said in a statement released in Hindi on Tuesday.
The statement added that a “consensus” was reached between both the parties on the demands that “will be implemented” by the Haryana Government in the days to come.
Highlighting the same, the joint committee decided to withdraw the strike action for now and has appealed to the state government to resolve the issues as agreed upon at the earliest.
Thousands of Anganwadi caregivers had been on strike since December 8 last year to press the Manohar Lal Khattar-led state government to accept their demands, including, among others, an increase in their monthly honorarium. The increment was promised to them by the central government in 2018.
According to government estimates, there are 26,000 Anganwadi centres in 22 districts across Haryana.
During this period, several rounds of negotiations held in Haryana’s Panchkula had failed to end the strike action, which also saw the Haryana government resorting to terminating several striking workers and helpers across districts in the state.
On Wednesday, “victory programmes” were held at various Anganwadi centres, wherein the women caregivers have now resumed work. Other organisations, including Sarva Karamchari Sangha, which had extended support to the Anganwadi workers, also participated in these programmes.
“Out of the 19-point demand charter, the government has accepted 15,” Devendri Sharma, president of the CITU-affiliated Haryana Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union, told Newsclick in a telephone interview on Thursday. She, however, agreed that the major demand for an increment, based on the central government’s announcement in 2018, is yet to be fulfilled.
About the demands accepted, Sharma informed Newsclick that the state government has agreed on providing workers and helpers with a retirement benefit of Rs 1,00,000 and Rs 50,000 respectively, along with an increment in the honorarium, which amounts to Rs 850 for the workers, Rs 762 for the mini workers, and Rs 736 for the helpers. The Khattar government has also agreed to increase this honorarium yearly through a dearness allowance.
Moreover, the government agreed to withdraw all cases slapped against the Anganwadi workers and helpers during the strike and has agreed on the rejoining of the terminated workers, Sharma added.
“It is true that the government has still not agreed to pay us what was promised [to the caregivers by the central government in 2018]. But if one looks at the overall scenario, the strike successfully achieved a victory through their joint struggle,” Sharma said.
Satish Sethi of SKS congratulated the Anganwadi workers and helpers on their “victory,” and said on Thursday that after farmers, it is the women in Haryana who has shown what a “joint struggle can achieve.”