Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir State Administration Council (SAC) has decided to disburse honorarium to Anganwadi workers and helpers under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme through Gram Panchayats. This decision has agitated the workers, who have threatened to launch a massive strike till the order is revoked.
NewsClick met Anganwadi workers and helpers who had gathered today at Pratap Park, Lal Chowk.
“It is a question of our dignity. We are not going to knock on the doors of a Panch and ask for our money. We can’t let ourselves be monitored by Panch or Sarpanch,” said an Anganwadi worker. Meanwhile, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), J&K has condemned the SAC’s decision. CITU State President Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said that this decision can pave way “for corruption and harassment of workers and helpers”.
In his statement, Tarigami said, “Supervision of Anganwadi centres is done by the ICDS department and we don't object to the coordination with the panchayat in running the Anganwadi centres. But the panchayats must provide resources to the Anganwadi centres like it is being done in Kerala, where they provide additional food, milk, eggs, toys, uniforms etc. to the children. But here, instead of following that model, only monitoring part has been given to the panchayats. The salary of the Anganwadi staff will be released only after the certification of the panchayats, which can lead to corruption and harassment of the workers and helpers. This was tried in many states. All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers/Helpers (AIFAWH) and trade unions objected to it and the decision was taken back.”
The workers have decided that they will not go to work until a decision is taken in their favour.
Not just one, Myriad of issues
The workers and helpers have been working without wages for the past six months. Speaking to NewsClick, president of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Association (AWHA), Tasleema, said, “We are demanding that our wages be released at the earliest. We have resolved to fight until there is a solution of our problems. There are many issues that we are facing regarding regularisation, release of wages and low wages.”
Dozens of workers who had assembled at Pratap Park today demanded that Governor Satya Pal Malik-led administration listen to their demands.
A worker said, “Do you think it’s possible to make a living out of Rs 5,000? Most of the Anganwadi workers are widows. They have their kids to look after. Plus, the money never comes on time.”
Workers feel that they are being ignored in the name of conflict and are not treated as humans. An agitated worker said, “Abhi takk hamare bache gun uthate thay, ab hum uthayenge agar humari saari baatein nahi maani gayi. (Our children have picked up guns until now. We too will have to do the same if our demands are not met.)”
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