The Anganwadi workers in Haryana have been protesting since February 8 over the failed promises and false assurances of the Manohar Lal Khattar government and Narendra Modi himself. Upping their ante against the apathetic government, they gave a call for a three-day tala band (complete shutdown) which started from February 20.
Over 51,000 Anganwadi workers have been striking over a set of old demands which have not been fulfilled despite repeated protests and assurances. The workers are questioning as to why the increase in wages which was promised by Narendra Modi himself has still not been implemented by the state government.
Speaking to NewsClick, Shakuntala Devi of the Anganwadi Workers’ and Helpers’ union said, “After our repeated protests and continuous agitation, the state officials did invite us for consultations. However, even after giving us assurances, no respite was given to us. The Chief Minister himself had announced in the floor of the house last year, that our demands will be fulfilled. But no conclusive negotiations have taken place, instead there have been instances of continuous crackdowns on workers.” The protesting workers also said that the government is hell bent on shifting attention and repressing the movement of the workers.
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In March 2018, the government had agreed to the demands of the protesting workers. Speaking to NewsClick, CITU (Centre of Indian Trade Unions) State president Jai Bhagwan said, “Manohar Lal Khattar needs to be reminded of the very promise he had made to the workers on March 6, 2018, where he had told the Anganwadi workers that they will find recognition as the other workers of the state.”
Talking about the failed promises of Narendra Modi to the workers, he added, “In September, the government had promised an increase of Rs 1,500 to the minimum wages for the workers and an increment of Rs 750 for the helpers. Why is this promise still not fulfilled?”
Among other demands, the workers have consistently demanded that an ex gratia amount of Rs 3 lakh should be paid in the case of a death of a worker or a helper. The Anganwadi workers are also asserting that the promotion from helpers to workers and from workers to supervisors should be done on the basis of seniority. They have also highlighted that pensions and retirement benefits along with honorarium should be provided. Additionally, the creches which had been previously closed down by the government should be opened, and workers and helpers should be recruited.
The workers will be convening a state-wide meeting on February 24 to decide the future course of action for the movement.