Anganwadi workers and Helpers reaffirm the resolve to join the General Strike on 2nd September 2016
Thwart the efforts of the Government to mislead the workers through false propaganda and foil the strike!
The Samyukta Morcha of Anganwadi Employees Federations had issued a strike notice to the Government of India, on 1st August 2016 to join the 2nd September 2016 General Strike call given by the Central trade unions on our long pending demands. Preparation for the strike is going on in full swing throughout the country.
Along with the long pending demands of regularization, minimum wages and social security, the anganwadi employees are raising the demand to stop the large scale privatization of ICDS by the Modi government. There is tremendous discontent and anger among the anganwadi workers and helpers throughout the country against the Narendra Modi government which had drastically cut down the budget allocation for the ICDS scheme and handing over it to corporates like Vedanta. This strike is going to be a grand success with the largest ever participation of anganwadi workers and helpers.
Obviously annoyed by this, the Modi government, since last few months has been resorting to a misinformation campaign to mislead the anganwadi workers and helpers as well as the other scheme workers. The latest such hoax being the campaign by the ministry that the government decided to give some benefits to the anganwadi workers and other scheme workers.
What is the reality?
Till date there is no promise or move by the government of India on the basic issues of Scheme workers - recognition as workers, minimum wages and pension.
The only offer in the very badly drafted letter by the Minister for Labour and Employment, received by the CITU on 26 August 2016 is “a comprehensive medical scheme for volunteers of various schemes, rikshaw pullers/auto drivers, domestic workers and other construction workers in unorganized sector under ESI is being framed”. Last year also, just before the strike the government had made such a promise.
In reality the recent ESIC proposal is to cover the scheme workers viz., anganwadi and mid-day-meal workers, ASHAs etc to provide limited benefit on payment of Rs.250/- per month which means 8.33% of the paltry honorarium of anganwadi workers, 16% for the helpers and 25% for the mid-day-meal workers. Whereas for other workers covered under ESI Act, the contribution is only 1.75% of their monthly wages for full ESI benefits. Can the anganwadi employees and other scheme workers afford such high burden of contribution out of their paltry honorarium ranging from Rs 1000/- to Rs 3000/-, and that also for the “limited” service? The irony is that as of today, in 271 districts in the country, there are no ESI dispensaries/hospitals. This in turn is the plan to take away the money from nearly one crore workers.
This offer, which came just six days ahead of the Strike , even do not worth any mention. Is this the promised “acche din” for the anganwadi workers and helpers who takes the most important services of nutrition health and education to 11 crore children under six and 1.9 crore mothers of the country without whom the rest of the fifty percent of India’s children too would have been malnourished? Do the Modi government and its labour Minister consider since we have been working since last fourty years for such a pittance called ‘honorarium”, we are all fools?
It is most unfortunate that the BMS which was a signatory to the strike notice in 2015 but withdrew from the strike unilaterally at the last moment, in spite of the consecutive budget cuts on ICDS considers this as a “positive move.”
All India Federation of Anganwadi workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) reiterates its resolve to participate in the 2nd September 2016 General Strike. We call upon the 26 lakh anganwadi workers and helpers to give a befitting reply to the arrogance of the Modi government and its Minister for WCD who publicly declared that “there is no question of increasing their wages”, “anganwadi workers and helpers do not work’ and so on.
We call upon the people of India to support our struggle, for our rights as workers and the rights of every child for food, health and education and to Save ICDS.
A. R. Sindhu