On February 8, mid-day meal workers from all over the country are going to protest in their states, in solidarity with the 2.48 lakh midday meal workers from Bihar who have been on an indefinite strike since January 7, demanding minimum wage and other benefits like social security and labour laws.
Protest demonstrations will be organised in most parts of the country of February 8, at state and district levels. In Delhi, midday meal workers from Haryana will hold a demonstration, and burn the effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Talking to NewsClick, Anju Maini, the treasurer of All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH), affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), said, “Midday meal workers from all over the country will mobilise in solidarity with the protesting workers of Bihar, and will also protest against the false promises being made by the central and state governments.”
Maini said, “The salaries received by the midday meal workers is abominable. In some states, like Haryana, an honorarium of Rs. 1,000 is paid to the workers by the central government. The state government pays them another Rs. 2,000. This itself is an incredibly low amount.” She said that in some other states, the situation is even worse. The workers are only paid the honorarium provided by the central government, and in certain cases, even that amount is divided between the cooks and the helpers.
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Maini also said, “The workers are paid the honorarium for 10 months in a year, instead of all 12 months. This is an unfair practice.” The same issue has been raised by the striking midday meal workers in Bihar, which include mostly women.
After the interim budget, AIFAWH released a statement saying, “In the interim budget 2019-20, BJP government has again cheated the 26 lakh anganwadi workers and helpers. The budget has neglected not only the long pending demands of the anganwadi workers and helpers but has also neglected the crucial question of malnutrition in the country.”
It read, “The Prime Minister had declared increase in remuneration of anganwadi workers, mini workers and helpers on September 11, 2018. He also declared that it will be implemented from October 1, 2018 and the workers will get it before Deepavali. But till date the anganwadi workers and helpers in most of the states are yet to receive it. In the budget speech, the Interim Finance Minister has mentioned the increase in remuneration of anganwadi and ASHA workers declared by the Prime Minister in September, in such a way to create an impression that there is further increase in remuneration of anganwadi employees.”
They also mentioned how the budget figures reveal that the budget allocation is adequate to implement the increase announced by the Government in September 2018, and how there was no mention of the pension for the anganwadi employees which the government has been promising since 2014.
Also Read: Bihar Govt Issues Ultimatum to Protesting Midday Meal Cooks, Protests Intensify
AIFAWH has also called for a huge demonstration in New Delhi on February 25, against non-allocation of adequate funds, against cash transfer and for the implementation of the 45th Indian Labour Conference recommendations on minimum wages and pension for scheme workers.