25 February 2019
Shri. Rakesh Srivastava
Ministry of WCD,
Government of India
Sub: Demands of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers
Please recall our meeting with you on 8 June 2017. We had a long discussion that day on almost all issues we, the anganwadi workers and helpers face, from policy issues to issues in our daily functioning. You have given assurances on resolving many issues immediately. But, we are sorry to say that even after almost two years, most of the issues are pending.
Moreover, your assurance of having bipartite meeting with the trade union federations of anganwadi employees was never implemented. Our efforts to get an appointment with you or the joint secretary or the director were futile with denial of appointments since two years. So we were again forced to take it to the streets even to have bipartite discussions, which is a legal right in our democracy.
We have collected nearly 40 lakh signatures from anganwadi workers, helpers and beneficiaries throughout the country on a memorandum on our basic demands for strengthening the ICDS, the implementation of the 45th and 46th ILC recommendations on recognition, minimum wages and social security and pension to the anganwadi workers and helpers and against any form of privatisation. We would like to submit to the memorandum and signatures to the ministry.
At a time when nationally and internationally, the importance of ‘care work’ (especially the unpaid and underpaid work of women) is being recognized and being counted as part of GDP, it is very important that the ministry of ‘Women and Child Development’, the ministry to take care of the interests of women, take a stand recognizing the labour of women employees of this ministry who impart a major part of institutional care to the next generation of our country. So the very design of ICDS in which this labour is treated as ‘voluntary’ only at the time of payment needs to be redefined. It is all the more important when these workers by policy recruited from socially backward sections of the society.
The recent increase in remuneration of anganwadi workers and helpers announced by the Prime Minister in September 2018 has not yet been implemented in most parts of the country. Moreover, many state governments like Haryana are not willing to pay this additional remuneration in the pretext that they have already paying additional. Clear instructions need to be issued in this regard.
We are hereby submitting our demands many of which were part of our memorandum submitted to you in 2017. We request you to intervene immediately and take proper measurers on our following demands which we have categorized into three – Immediate measurers by the Ministry, Streamlining the State level implementation and Policy measures.
- Institutionalise ICDS. Develop anganwadi centres full time child care centres cum crèches so that the unorganized sector women workers can avail the child care services thus improving the female work participation rate thereby increasing the GDP of the country.
- Implement 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference recommendations on scheme workers. Recognise anganwadi workers and helpers as employees, Pay minimum wages Rs.18000 per month, Pension Rs.6000 per month and social security.
- No privatisation in any form – No centralized kitchen, No handing over to corporates or NGOs in the name of CSR etc.
- Amend the Right to Education Act to include preschool education. Anganwadi centres should be designated as nodal centres for the provision of pre-school education to children in the three to six years age group.
- Adequate Allocation for implementation of increased remuneration to anganwadi workers and helpers and for increased norms for supplementary nutrition (as the allocation in the interim budget is inadequate for the implementation of existing benefits.)
- Clear directions to be issued to the state governments for payment of the increased remuneration in addition to the existing payment in states (as in case of increase in 2011)
- Stop the move to introduce Direct Cash Transfer in ICDS. Stop the pilot projects
- Stop making Aadhar mandatory for beneficiaries and targeting in the name of plugging leakages. Stop eliminating beneficiaries as ‘fake beneficiaries’ on the basis of Aadhar linkage.
- No retrenchment in the name of mergers.
- Full payment for Mini anganwadi workers since they perform all duties of a regular anganwadi worker and are doing double work since there is no helper. Convert the mini centres to full anganwadi centres.
- Adequate allocation for the PMMVY to provide maternity benefit to cover all women. (Last year due to non availability of funds many are denied the maternity benefits. Angawadi workers and helpers are also denied the incentives)
- Form a Tripartite Mechanism at the national level to address grievances of the anganwadi workers and helpers
- Uniform wages and other benefits for anganwadi workers and helpers throughout the country. Issue guidelines in this regard.
- Set up tripartite mechanism to revise wages and benefits for workers periodically as per the recommendation of the Parliamentary standing committee
- Uniform Standing orders/ service rules for the anganwadi workers and helpers throughout the country as directed by 45th and 46th ILC on Promotion for helpers, medical leave, summer/winter holidays, TA in actuals, transfers etc
- PF and ESI for angnawadi workers and helpers.(Already proposals were put forward in the concerned committees/boards. Ministry’s positive response awaited)
- Gratuity for anganwadi workers and helpers who got retired/are getting retired in the near future.
- Continue AKBY, include all workers and helpers in the other schemes (separate memorandum given)
- Uniform retirement age of 65 years throughout the country, till proper pension scheme is implemented.
- Increase allowances of anganwadi workers for taking care of additional centres
- Increment for mini workers and helpers
- Provision for Awards for Helpers
- Fill up vacancies of anganwadi workers and helpers
- Do away the age bar for Promotion of Anganwadi Workers to supervisors and Helpers to Workers. 100% posts of supervisors for promotion of anganwadi workers and eligible helpers.
- Extra Non- ICDS Work- Issue clear guidelines for not assigning anganwadi workers and helpers in non- ICDS duties.
- Provide proper anganwadi buildings with all facilities
- Recognise the right to organize in unions and for collective bargaining of the anganwadi workers and helpers
- Stop harassment and enforcement of ESMA, putting ban on rallies dharnas etc
Implementation of existing benefits
- Ensure monthly payment of wages and other benefits to the anganwadi employees.
- Ensure uninterrupted supply of supplementary nutrition in anganwadi centres
- Implementation of existing benefits like TA/DA, leave, maternity benefits etc. for anganwadi workers and helpers throughout the country.
- Issue fresh orders compiling the existing benefits for the anganwadi workers and helpers given by the centre and direct the states for implementation. (In the last meeting it was promised that it will be uploaded in the website as well)
- Clear orders for appointing alternate worker/helper at the time of maternity leave of the existing worker
- Regular payment of rent for the anganwadi centres as per the revised rates
- Implementation of existing provisions to the anganwadi centres – pre school kits, medical kits etc
AIFAWH is the trade union federation of anganwadi workers and helpers’ trade unions from 24 states and UTs representing nearly five lakhs members. We have been working for the last twenty seven years for better working conditions of the anganwadi workers and helpers throughout the country as well as for strengthening the ICDS, the lone scheme addressing very crucial issues of child malnutrition, maternal and child mortality etc. We strongly believe that the bipartite/tripartite dialogues will improve the functioning of any institution.
We demand that the government should immediately set up a mechanism in the form of a tripartite body comprising representatives of the government of India, state governments and the national federations of anganwadi employees to discuss improvement in the conditions of the anganwadi employees including the above aspects, as well as effective functioning of ICDS. Similarly, the states shall be directed to form state level and district level bipartite mechanisms for better coordination and effective implementation of the scheme.
We request you to personally intervene to fulfill the above demands of anganwadi employees immediately.
Usharani A R Sindhu
President General Secretary