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AP: Anganwadi Workers, Helpers Call off 42-day Strike as Govt Agrees to Most Demands

AIFAWH congratulates lakhs of Anganwadi workers, helpers for victory, despite imposition of ESMA and arrests.
Angandwadi workers in Andhra Pradesh

Image Courtesy: Twitter/@cpimspeak

New Delhi: Lakhs of Anganwadi workers and helpers in Andhra Pradesh, who had been on strike for 42 days, called off their agitation following the government agreeing to their main demands.

The workers and helpers, mainly women, had been on strike since December 12, 2023, demanding recognition as government employees, increase in remuneration among others.

The striking workers, who continued their strike despite the Jagan Mohan Reddy government invoking ESMA or the Essential Services Maintenance Act, were demanding a wage hike from Rs 11,500/month at present to at least Rs 26,000/month, a rise in retirement age to 62 years and benefits such as gratuity.

AIFAWH Congratulates Anganwadi Workers

 Terming the strike as a ‘grand victory”, the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and helpers (AIFAWH) said in a statement that the strike, under the banner of Joint Platform of Anganwadi Unions under the leadership of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), had “proved the strength of the working people. This will strengthen the ongoing struggles against the anti-people policies of the Modi government and various right-wing state governments.”

The Anganwadi workers defied ESMA for 18 days, faced mass arrest of around 8,000 workers and helpers and on Monday night forced the AP government to reach an agreement with the unions.

 According to AIFAWH, the state government has issued orders regarding TA/DA, increasing the age limit for promotion for Anganwadi workers and helpers, as well as raising the retirement age to 62. In addition, the one-time retirement benefit has been raised from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh for workers and from Rs 20,000 to Rs 60,000 for helpers. The union claimed that the government had also agreed to convert all mini Anganwadi centres to full centres.

“Yesterday (Monday) midnight, the government agreed in a written agreement for an increase in wages, which they will work out along with the unions. Regarding gratuity, the AP Government asked for time, and they will write to the central government on that,” read the statement.

During the 42-day strike, leaders of the union, such as K Subbaravamma, AIFAWH secretary and general secretary of the AP State Anganwadi union, went on an indefinite hunger strike from December 17 December. 

“She and others had to be hospitalised due to deteriorating health. The unions gave a call to reach the capital on January 22 to submit the signatures collected on their demands. Yesterday (Monday), around 30,000 Anganwadi workers and helpers has started for Vijayawada. Around 8,000 were arrested in various districts,’ said AIFAWH.

AIFAWH pointed out that in Maharashtra, the indefinite strike of Anganwadi workers and helpers, which started on December 4, was still going on.

“We are sure that that strike also will be successful with the support of the people,” it said, and called upon anganwadi workers and helpers throughout the country to organise “huge demonstrations in every Parliamentary constituency and issue charge sheets to Members of Parliament on January 23-30, before the last budget of the Modi 2 government”.

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