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Delhi: Anganwadi Workers Take Out Rally, Slam Kejriwal Govt. Over Paltry Pay

On an indefinite strike for twelve days now in the national capital, the community caregivers are demanding monthly pay of Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000 for workers and helpers, respectively.
Anganwadi workers protest delhi

New Delhi: Striking Anganwadi workers and helpers in Delhi took out a ‘warning rally’ on Friday under the banner of Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union (DSAWHU), saying that the agitation over increment in honorarium will intensify in days to come if the Arvind Kejriwal – led government in the capital doesn’t agree to their demands immediately.

Meanwhile, on Friday, another rally was planned to be taken out by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)-affiliated Delhi Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union. However, the rally to the Delhi Secretariat was not allowed by the police.

“The rally was not allowed, even as [Anganwadi] workers and helpers from Jahangirpuri, Shahdara, Inderlok, and Seelampur projects had come here to protest today,” Kamla, general secretary, DAWHU told NewsClickShe added that since the ongoing indefinite strike was called by an independent union and not by any joint platform, CITU’s union is not participating in it.

DAWHU is demanding the implementation of a minimum wage of Rs 26,000 for the Anganwadi workers and helpers.

The indefinite strike, led by DSAWHU, has been going on for 12 days. The community caregivers are demanding monthly pay of Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000 for workers and helpers, respectively. Demanding payment of full arrears, the protesting all-women workforce in Delhi also flays the Central government for not ensuring an increase in remuneration – promised to the workers and helpers by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018.

Thousands of Anganwadi caregivers marched around their protest site on Friday, with slogans against Delhi Government renting the air. The striking Anganwadi workers and helpers are staying put near Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal’s residence in the Civil Lines locality.

While videos of marching women were shared on the social media platform, the rally was only allowed by police to be carried out till the Delhi Vishwavidyalaya metro station, NewsClick had learnt.

“The rally was delayed because of a tussle between the [striking] women and the police in the beginning. The police were not allowing us to take out our march,” Vrishali, spokesperson, DSAWHU, told NewsClick over the telephone on Friday. The police had to agree eventually, she added, “as over 15,000 women were present,” but the route of the rally was curtailed.

The agitating workers and helpers lament that the last few years saw a “tremendous” increase in inflation, leading to a surge in prices of essential items and their workload at the Anganwadi centres. This, however, hasn’t been accompanied by any increment in these women’s honorarium. The Delhi government raised their honorarium last in 2017 in the backdrop of a work strike, which persisted for 58 days back then.

In Delhi, there are over 10,000 government-run daycare centres under the Central government’s Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 scheme (earlier known as Integrated Child Development Services), which have a total strength of close to 22,000 Anganwadi workers and helpers.

While bereft of an “employee” status and thus, entitled to ‘honorariums’ instead of ‘wages’, these community caregivers receive Rs 3,500/month as a worker and Rs 2,250/month as a helper from the Centre, in addition to which different state governments contribute a varying amount of honorarium.

Currently, in Delhi, this leads to Rs 9,698 for the worker and Rs 4,839 for the helper.

Newsclick had earlier reported on the decision of DSAWHU to expose the “hypocrisy and double talk” of the Kejriwal government in Delhi by visiting poll-bound states, including Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Uttar Pradesh.

The announcement had come when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sought to take its ‘Delhi model’ of governance pitch to these states to woo voters during the ongoing elections season.

In the press conference held earlier this week, DSAWHU also rued that no one from the Delhi government has reached out to them yet. The union had led a “warning protest” in September last year, followed by a one-day work strike in January earlier this year.

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