New Delhi: The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) – affiliated Delhi Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union (DAWHU) gave a call on Friday to start a hunger strike at the headquarters of the Women and Child Development (WCD) Department at ISBT Kashmere Gate from May 9.
Among their major demands include the reinstatement of the Anganwadi caregivers. They were terminated earlier in March this year in connection with the 39-day long work strike, along with the withdrawal of a notification which carried the imposition of a 1968 law prohibiting strike actions for six months.
The union had a "bi-partite dialogue" with numerous WCD officials, including its director, on multiple occasions in the past, in which agreements were reached on the various issues, DAWHU said in a statement on Friday. “The Department has [however] backtracked from this consensus understanding, which is not only against the democratic ethos but also sabotages the efforts made by the union to solve the issue. This will further deteriorate the work situation in the department. Further, this demonstrates the anti-worker attitude of the AAP government of Delhi," reads the statement.
On March 9, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal, had imposed the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) for six months, prohibiting the Anganwadi caregivers in the national capital from going on strike while declaring the services rendered by them as "essential."
It was imposed in response to an indefinite strike of the Anganwadi workers and helpers that had begun under the banner of multiple unions earlier in January this year.
There are over 10,000 Anganwadi centres in the national capital that cater to the needs of local women and children in the community with the assistance of one worker and one helper at each centre. The striking caregivers’ demands included, above all, a substantial increase in the monthly honorarium and payment of full arrears of the increment as promised to the workers and helpers by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018.
On March 5, around 3,000 striking Anganwadi workers and helpers received show-cause notices, while others received termination notices, according to a report by The Indian Express.
The same report quoted an official of the WCD department explaining that those who have received the show-cause notices will be terminated, as per directions, if they fail to rejoin their centres by March 9.
More than 991 workers have been terminated from their jobs until now; the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government submitted in the Delhi High Court, which was hearing a petition filed by one among the striking unions, Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union (DSAWHU).
Kamla, general secretary, DAWHU said on Friday that terminated workers and helpers hadn't been paid a single penny of their earned wages for the month of January this year. “Even workers and helpers who have joined the duty haven’t been paid full wages for January 2022 and the earned wages for February, March and April 2022. Even the rents for Anganwadi centres haven’t been paid,” she said in a statement on Friday.
Saying that the movement will continue until demands are met, Kamla added that the Union will also meet Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on this “brazen undemocratic attitude” of the concerned minister and shall request his intervention into the matter.