Lucknow: Scores of Anganwadi workers in several parts of the state on Sunday staged a protest, seeking immediate release of their 12-month pending wages and regularisation of their services. They also demanded better working conditions and facilities like insurance and be classified as government employees as they were doing duties comparable to those of full-timers.
The protest was organised under the aegis of the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH). The protesters warned that they would intensify the agitation if their demands were not fulfilled.
The aggrieved workers from different districts -- Budaun, Bareilly, Ballia, raised anti-government slogans. The protesters were demanding an enhancement in their monthly honorarium and a release of salary. They alleged they had not received their salary for the last 12 months.
"The government is not paying heed to our demands. It does not realise that some of us are widows who are the sole breadwinners of our respective families. How will we manage without a salary?" asked Madhu Sharma, an Anganwadi worker in Budaun who was accompanied by her colleagues Laxmi Devi, Nisha, Munni Devi and Siroma Devi.
The Anganwadi workers said they would not join their duties "unless our pending salaries are released, and the monthly honorarium is hiked."
Veena Gupta, secretary, AIFAWH, in Lucknow, said that they are asking the government only what the government had promised to deliver before the Assembly elections. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had announced many times from different platforms that the honorarium of Anganwadi workers had been increased, but nothing increased on the ground, she said.
"For the last eight months, mid-day meal workers have not received their salaries. The condition of ASHA workers is not different. They also have not received their honorarium for the last couple of months. In many districts of Uttar Pradesh, Anganwadi workers are not paid their monthly wages. The scheme workers are on the verge of starvation. The condition of workers is worse post-election. By not giving salaries to these workers, the state government wants to dilute the scheme programme from the state," Gupta told NewsClick, adding that AIFAWH will begin strike from April 30 in Basti and then in other parts of the state.
Gupta further claimed that a delegation of scheme workers recently met Union Minister Smriti Irani regarding the delayed monthly payment of workers.
"The Union Minister told us the UP government has enough funds so that it can not be spent and comes back to the Center. Therefore, we should seek justice from the state government."
State President Geetanjali Maurya said, "BJP had said in its election manifesto that the workers would be given a respectable honorarium after 120 days of the formation of the government. It proved to be an "election gimmick". The scheme workers have become a joke for the government."
"When we hold demonstrations, organise protests to remind the government of their promise, lathis are used on the women. The government has left no option except suicide before us," she said.
It must be recalled that the CM hailed Anganwadi workers for tireless efforts at the grassroots level amid the COVID-19 peak, saying their contribution to providing basic healthcare is unparalleled.
Appreciating their contribution as members of surveillance committees during the COVID peak, Adityanath had said for the entire coronavirus-affected period from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2022, every Anganwadi worker and mini-Anganwadi worker would get an additional monthly encouragement allowance of Rs 500 and helpers Rs 250.
Commenting on the CM's claim, the Anganwadi union claimed that no worker received any additional monthly encouragement allowance.
"When we are not getting our monthly honorarium for which we work tirelessly almost 30 days in a month, it is pointless to expect any additional amount."
At present, 3,06,829 Anganwadi workers, mini-Anganwadi workers and helpers are serving in the state.