Anganwadi workers and helpers from all across Haryana who have been striking, raising their long pending demands, on Saturday, conducted region-wise demonstrations. The demonstrations were conducted at Karnal, Haryana Bhavan in Delhi, and Narnaund under the banner of All India Federation of Anganwadi workers and Helpers (AIFAWH). A large chunk of workers had gathered at the spots to press for their demands.
Since February 8, more than 51,000 workers in the state have been protesting against the failed promises of the chief minister and Prime Minister Modi. Saturday’s demonstration came as the part of this protest series. Workers from Panchkula, Ambala, Yamunanagar, Kaithal, Karnal and Panipat demonstrated in front of the residence of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in Karnal. Workers from Sirsa, Fatehabad, Hisar, Bhiwani and Jind gathered in Narnaund where the Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu’s residence is located. On the other hand, workers from Palwal, Faridabad, Gurugram, Mewat and Sonepat protested at Haryana Bhawan in Delhi.
The protesters’ demands include: anganwadi workers should be included in the category of labourers, helpers should be considered unskilled labourers, and workers should get the increase in honorarium of Rs 1500 and Rs 750 that was announced by the prime minister with immediate effect from September.
AIFAWH, along with all the central trade unions except for RSS-affiliated BMS, have been demanding that the minimum wage for scheme workers be increased to Rs 18,000 per month. The category of scheme workers includes anganwadi workers, ASHA workers, mid-day meal workers and so on.
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In Haryana, after the series of protests of workers in 2018, the state government had invited workers for talks, and they were given multiple assurances. Chief Minister Khattar had declared that the demands of the workers would be fulfilled. However, there has been no implementation so far.
Speaking to NewsClick, Jai Bhagwan, state general secretary of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), had said earlier, “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.”
Other major demands of the protesters include: promotion from helper to worker and worker to supervisor should be done on the basis of seniority; workers and helpers should get leave in summers; in case of death of workers and helpers, families should get Rs 3 lakh ex-gratia benefit, retirement benefits, including pension; helpers should get extra money in honorarium; the immediate opening of closed crèche centers and the job of the crack workers and helpers should be restored.
The government, on the other hand, has served notices to the protesters. Whatever may happen, “Anganwadi workers and helpers of the state will go ahead and fight against all oppression,” said a statement issued jointly released by the organisations supporting the protesters.
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