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Haryana: Khattar’s ‘Gift’ Not Enough, Anganwadi Workers’ Strike to Continue, Says Union

Waged since December 8, the strike action has resulted in the operations of almost 26,000 Anganwadi centres in 22 districts across the state to come to a grinding halt.
Protest demonstrations have been staged across the state since December 8. Image Courtesy - CITU Haryana/Facebook

Protest demonstrations have been staged across the state since December 8. Image Courtesy - CITU Haryana/Facebook.

New Delhi: Protesting Anganwadi workers and helpers in Haryana on Thursday said that the state-wide strike that forced the state Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to announce a slew of financial incentives for the all-women workforce a day earlier, will continue in the coming days.

The decision was taken in an online meeting held on Thursday morning, which saw the participation of the representatives of the unions that are spearheading the ongoing strike. Waged since December 8, the strike action has resulted in the operations of almost 26,000 Anganwadi centres in 22 districts across the state to come to a grinding halt.

"The strike will continue till at least January 5," Shakuntala, general secretary, CITU-affiliated Haryana Anganwadi Workers & Helpers Union, told NewsClick on Thursday, adding that a notice for the same has been submitted to the state government authorities.

There will be a state-wide rally on January 5 in Karnal district, Shakuntala further added, when asked about the other decisions taken in the Thursday meeting between the protesting unions.

The decision comes a day after the Anganwadi workers and helpers unions held talks with the state government authorities in Chandigarh over the raised demands. CM Khattar, too was present in the talks.

"All the three unions that are currently leading the strike are of the opinion that the strike must continue because not all demands of the Anganwadi workers and helpers were accepted by the state government," Shakuntala told NewsClick.

Among the major demands that the 52,000 Anganwadi workers and helpers in Haryana are pressing for is the implementation of the increment in their honorarium, which was announced earlier in 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to the press statement, an increment of Rs. 1500 and Rs. 750 for Anganwadi workers and helpers respectively was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. It was envisaged to benefit 27 lakh women across the country engaged with the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) aimed at providing nutrition supplements and other development help to children under six years of age as well as pregnant and lactating mothers

However, the said increment hasn't been implemented in the state of Haryana as yet. In yesterday's meeting as well, no decision on this was taken, Shakuntala, who was part of the meeting, said. Anganwadi workers and helpers, officially considered volunteers, are entitled to receive a monthly honorarium, which amounts to Rs. 12,000 and Rs. 6,000 respectively in Haryana currently.

On the other hand, calling it to be a new year gift, Haryana CM Khattar announced several financial incentives for the women workers in his state, including a retirement benefit of Rs. 1 lakh for the Anganwadi workers and Rs. 50,000 for the helpers.

A hike in the monthly honorarium of Rs. 400 from September 2020 and Rs. 450 from September 2021 was also announced. Besides, according to the official government statement, the arrears of 2019-20 and 2020-21 will be paid to the women, along with an incentive of Rs. 1000 to each Anganwadi worker for working on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surekha of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) - Haryana unit told NewsClick on Thursday that most of Wednesday's announcements were "nothing new".

"The major demand of increasing honorarium [as per the 2018 announcement by PM Modi] hasn't been accepted yet," she said. Moreover, the concerns relating to the 'Poshan Tracker' app are also not resolved as yet, she added.

'Poshan Tracker' is the app developed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to ensure real-time monitoring of providing supplementary nutrition for improving the nutritional status of beneficiaries and providing real-time information for prompt supervision and management of services.

The Anganwadi workers in Haryana have registered a protest in the past against the mandatory use of the mobile application. On Wednesday, Haryana CM also announced that the workers would be given a mobile phone for official work.

Asked about these, Shakuntala agreed that the announcements made by the CM Khattar would ease the financial situation of the Anganwadi workers and helpers in the state "to an extent," but added that these were not enough. Among others, the Anganwadi workers and helpers unions are also not happy that the promotion of workers to the post of supervisor will be achieved through written examination.

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