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Haryana: Stalemate Continues, Anganwadi Workers to Now Gherao MLA Residences

Ronak Chhabra |
Among leaders in Haryana that are expected to witness the protest at their doors in the coming days include Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and state Women & Child Development Minister Kamlesh Dhanda, among others.
On January 12, nearly 23,000 anganwadi workers and helpers in Haryana also courted arrest across numerous districts. Image Courtesy - Facebook/CITU Haryana

On January 12, nearly 23,000 Anganwadi workers and helpers in Haryana also courted arrest across numerous districts. Image Courtesy - Facebook/CITU Haryana

New Delhi: As the stalemate continues between the striking Anganwadi workers and helpers and the Haryana government over granting an increment in honorarium to the all-women workforce, the former has now announced to intensify their protest by giving a call to gherao the residences of the members of the legislative assembly of the BJP-JJP government in the state.

Spearheading the movement, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)-backed and All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC)-backed Anganwadi unions have also decided, in a meeting held on Friday, to continue the strike action in the state till January 25.

Operations at almost all the 26,000 Anganwadi centres in 22 districts across Haryana have been hit since December 8 last year, as workers and helpers have abstained from their duties. On January 12, nearly 23,000 of them also courted arrest across numerous districts, in an action that also attracted police cases against the leaders in many places, NewsClick has learnt.

The workers and helpers will now gherao the residences of the MLAs of the ruling coalition government in the state and hand over a memorandum, enlisting the major demands, Pushpa Dalal, general secretary of the AIUTUC-affiliated Anganwadi Karyakarta Sahayika Union, told NewsClick over the phone on Saturday. "We will gherao their residences in different districts from January 17 to January 22. The strike will continue till January 25,” she said.

Among the leaders in Haryana that are expected to witness the protest at their doors in the coming days include state Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and state Women & Child Development Minister Kamlesh Dhanda, among others.

The major demands that the Anganwadi workers and helpers in Haryana are pressing include, above all, an increment in their monthly honorarium, promised to them by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018. An increment of Rs 1,500 and Rs 750 for the worker and helpers respectively was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

With total strength crossing over 50,000, Anganwadi workers and helpers are currently entitled to Rs 12,000 and Rs 6,000 respectively in Haryana.

Besides, the striking workers and helpers are also demanding grants of skilled and unskilled workers status and introducing Dearness Allowance (DA) and retirement benefit worth Rs 3 lakh, among others.

Last month, against the background of the strike action, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced several financial incentives for the Anganwadi staff, including a retirement benefit worth Rs 1 lakh for the workers and Rs 50,000 for the helpers. He then announced a hike in the monthly honorarium and an additional COVID-19 incentive for the workers, along with a promotion policy.

NewsClick had reported earlier on why the announcements failed to persuade the unions to withdraw the strike action. As many as five talks conducted till now between the government officials and the union delegation in Chandigarh have failed to reach any breakthrough in this regard.

Meanwhile, the latest agitation by Anganwadi workers and helpers, who are tasked with a significant role under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) for providing nutrition supplements to children under six years and pregnant and lactating mothers, comes amidst another surge of Covid-19 cases, triggered by the emergence of Omicron variant.

As of now, cinema halls, theatres and multiplexes are closed in the state till January 19, while government and private offices, except for emergency or essential services, have been advised to function with 50 per cent staff attendance. Earlier on January 10, amid the rising cases, the Haryana government had also banned large gatherings of people in rallies and protests across the state.

Despite the curbs, however, the agitation of the Anganwadi workers and helpers continues, which has also managed to secure support from trade unions, women's organisations, students' groups and farmers' unions in the state.

Satbir Singh, vice president, CITU, told NewsClick that despite the curbs and the warnings by the state government, the Anganwadi women would continue their strike until their demands were met. "This is a historical movement by the women in Haryana, and all the like-minded groups in the State are with them in their struggle," he said

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