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Anganwadi Workers and Helpers registered their protest
The last few years have witnessed militant struggles by the anganwadi workers and helpers throughout the country focusing on the demands of No privatisation of ICDS, for regularisation, minimum wages and pension for anganwadi employees. These struggles, along with the organisational efforts of the CITU, had a multiplier effect on other sections of scheme workers, particularly the ASHAs and Mid Day Meal Workers who are in very large numbers all over the country. The scheme workers’ ‘Mahapadav’ organised by the CITU in November 2012, created ‘herstory’ with nearly forty thousand working women sitting in Jantar Mantar for 48 hours in the biting cold, demanding justice from the government . Followed by this struggle, which created a ground for the just demands, the CITU gained the support of other Central Trade Unions in bringing the scheme worker’s working conditions onto the agenda of the Indian Labour Conference. The 45th ILC recommended the recognition of all scheme workers as workers, provision for minimum wages and pension and social security to all of them.
The struggles had created such a political impact that the Manifestos of all major political parties for the 16th Lok Sabha elections had a mention of the working conditions of the anganwadi workers and helpers, although the commitment to the implementation of the recommendations of the 45th ILC was only from the CPI (M).
The All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) has been observing 10 July ‘All India Demand’s Day’ since its inception. In the case of 10th July being a holiday or having any other special circumstance, AIFAWH observes the demands day in the same week. This year, considering the budget session, AIFAWH working committee decided to observe the demands day on 4th July 2014 to press for the demands before the Union Budget.
Thousands of anganwadi workers from states – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, , Jharkhand, J&K, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tripura, Telengana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal - observed “demand’s day” on 4July. In Himachal Pradesh state level demonstration was held on 7th July and in Tamil Nadu district level demonstrations were held on 10th July 2014.
Anganwadi workers and helpers held rallies demonstrations, dharnas etc at the project/district headquarters and submitted a charter of demands to Smt. Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister for WCD. The main demands were that the government must stop any move to privatise the ICDS and immediately implement the recommendations of the 45th ILC on scheme workers. They demanded that, as promised by the BJP Manifesto, the Narendra Modi Government should “Review the working conditions and enhance the remuneration of Anganwadi worker's” in the ensuing Annual Budget.
As per the available reports, militant programmes were held at district and project headquarters throughout the country with massive participation.
In Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, nearly one lakh anganwadi workers and helpers held project level demonstrations. In Assam, the union observed ‘black day’ and held demonstrations at project and district headquarters. In Punjab demonstrations were held at all district head quarters. For the first time, at the initiative of the Punjab union, a demonstration was held in Chandigarh, UT in which nearly three hundred workers and helpers participated. In Haryana, all district head quarters saw militant demonstrations of anganwadi employees. In some places like Sangrur Punjab and Kaithal in Haryana, police attacked the demonstration.
In spite of having two state level programmes- against privatisation and retrenchment on 23 June 2014 and against the anti women attitude of the TMC MP and the WB Chief Minister, on 1 July, the demands day in West Bengal had seen massive participation of anganwadi workers and helpers at project and district levels. Although the state committee decided to have only deputation of representatives, employees assembled in good numbers throughout the state.
In Kerala, more than ten thousand workers and helpers participated in demonstrations held at district head quarters. In Karnataka also militant demonstrations were held at Taluk and district headquarters.
In Modi’s Gujarat, the state budget on 1st July announced an increase of Rs.500 to the workers and Rs.300 for the helpers. Terming this as a pittance, workers and helpers held demonstrations at district level as called by the State Union and AIFAWH.
In Tripura, demonstrations were held at the project level. In UP demonstrations were held in six districts. In Uttarakhand demonstrations were organized at district level.
AIFAWH demanded that as promised by Smt. Maneka Gandhi, the government should stop privatisation of the scheme and come forward and talk to the trade union federations of anganwadi employees on their demands and issues.
JAMMU & KASHMIR