The January 8-9 nationwide workers’ strike has been highly successful among the Anganwadi Sevikas in Maharashtra, a sector which remains out of focus otherwise. Almost two lakh Anganwadi Sevikas are on strike for two days for the implementation of pay hikes. Many of those Anganwadi Sevikas reached Azad Maidan in Mumbai, one of the centre points of protest on Tuesday, January 8. The huge gathering of these workers warned the government that if it failed to keep its word, they will be thrown out of power.
Sunita Babar (43) has been serving as an Anganwadi Sevika in Govandi Prakalpa, Mumbai, for the last 16 years. She gets Rs. 7,030 per month as honorarium from the state government. The government had promised to increase the honorarium by Rs. 1,500 by October 2018. But the assurance is still on paper and Sunita is waiting for her rightful money.
"How can you survive in just Rs. 7,000? Do these leaders get only this much amount? Are we not humans? Don't we have needs like medical assistance to fees of our children and all?" Sunita questioned angrily. She said that for every hike in her entire career, Anganwadi Sevikas were forced to hit the roads.
Sangita Amane, is a helper in Anganwadis, and gets just Rs. 3,675 per month. "We were told that there would be increment of 75 per cent to our honorarium. But nothing has changed. I have been in service for last ten years. We started from Rs. 600 rupees. Now, you can realise the kind of increment we have got, which is just a pittance. Isn't it injustice to us?" asked Sangita.
The Anganwadi Sevikas have one of the strongest unions in Maharashtra. Almost two lakh sevikas have extended their support to the strike for two days. But they are worried that the state government will deduct the money for these two days from their monthly honorarium. "Still, we have to fight. If we keep quiet, this government won't give us a single rupee," said Sangita Amane.
Vidya Bonde is an Anganwadi Sevika at Prakalpa Number Two at Panvel, Raigad, adjoining to Mumbai. She gets Rs. 6,700 as monthly honorarium. She said, "We had to go on strike twice. Only then this government announced an increase of Rs. 1,500. This amount was supposed to be started from October, around Diwali. But our Diwali was black as the government fail to keep its word.”
When questioned about their decision in the coming elections, they said, "We don't have a choice. If this government has failed to help us then why to keep it there? They should give us our rightful money. Otherwise, we have options," said Sunita Babar.
After bank employees' gathering at Azad Maidan on Tuesday, Anganwadi Sevikas were the second biggest group at the protest venue. The strike is expected to intensify on the second day on January 9, with more workers likely to join in the protesting workers.