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Haryana: Anganwadi, Mid-Day Meal, ASHA Workers Observe ‘Black Day’

Workers protested in many districts, including Rohtak, Bhiwani, Hisar, Sonipat, Panipat and Karnal on Tuesday, accusing the government of breaking promises.
Workers protested in many districts, including Rohtak, Bhiwani, Hisar, Sonipat, Panipat and Karnal on Tuesday, accusing the government of breaking promises.

Anganwadi, Mid-day Meal and ASHA (Accredited Social health Activist) workers and assistants have been struggling in Haryana for long for their demands. For the past several months, these workers have opened a front on the streets against the BJP-led Manohar Lal Khattar government.

As part of a series of protests, these workers observed a ‘Black Day’ and held protests in several districts on October 17, including Rohtak, Bhiwani, Hisar, Sonipat, Panipat and Karnal accusing the government of breaking its promises. and observed Black Day in protest.

Recall that during a state-level rally held in Bhiwani on October 8, it was decided that on October 17, all three scheme workers would register their protest by wearing black chunnis (stoles) or black badges.

The demonstration, under the banner of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union affiliated to AIUTUC, saw the participation of a large number of ASHA workers, mid-day meal workers and anganwadi workers and helpers.

The workers belonging to different organisations said they had been holding a series of protests and strikes, till now, except giving assurances, the government had taken no action on their demands.

At the time of writing this report, a demonstration of ASHA workers was being held in Hisar, where they had gathered to visit the residence of civic minister Kamal Gupta. But the police stopped them just 100 meters away from the minister’s residence.

The organisation's state general secretary Pushpa Dalal told NewsClick, "This Black Day was observed in protest against the government's hollow promises, because most of the demands which the Haryana government had accepted during our movement in 2022 last year, have not been implemented till now."  In such a situation, the workers were forced to take to the streets to make the authorities heeds their demands.

‘Work Burden is Rising, but Not Our Wages’

Pushpa Dalal said, "The government had talked about reducing our honorarium by only Rs 100 during the strike period, but senior officials have reduced our wages for four months by 75%. Apart from this, anganwadi workers are being harassed in various ways. The workload is being increased. Honorarium is not paid on time, rent for the centres is not being paid, workers are having to refill gas cylinders with their own money."

According to their organization, "Scheme worker women are facing many problems. There are about 5,000 posts of workers and helpers lying vacant in the anganwadi department, due to which the burden of their work is increasing. Apart from this, work outside the department is also being taken from these worker-helpers. The workload is continuously increasing, but there is no honorarium.”

It further added that, “many scheme workers are not very educated, and mental pressure is being put on them by giving them computer work, for which they have to take help from someone else and have to pay the money from their own pockets. The department is forcing workers to work online without any facilities and the promised smartphones."

A Long Struggle

Recall that all these scheme workers have been demanding an increase in honorarium, dearness allowance, money for uniforms, arrears, centre’s rent, provident fund and other social security benefits, including after retirement etc. for a long time. But, the state government seems to be continuously ignoring them.

Pointing out inflation and the rising prices of essentials, these workers say in such a situation “what do they eat and what do they save? All of them have family responsibilities, too."

There is not much time left for Haryana Assembly elections. In such a situation, many employee organisations, youth, women and anganwadi workers have already opened a front against the government. They are accusing the government of neglect and breaking its promises. In such a situation, the movement of these workers definitely appears to be a challenge for the Khattar government.

(translated from Hindi)

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