IN a statement issued on January 21, CITU has congratulated the lakhs of scheme workers, not only anganwadi, ASHA, Mid Day Meal workers, but also those working in many other central government schemes like NRLM, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, National Child Labour Project etc who had participated in the nationwide strike by the Scheme workers on January 20, 2017.
Strike was observed in 23 states in the country. Over four lakh scheme workers came out on streets in huge demonstrations and rallies at the state and district levels demanding recognition as workers, minimum wages, pension and other social security benefits and adequate allocations for the schemes.
Nearly one crore workers, mostly women are employed for implementation of central government’s different schemes like Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Mid Day Meal (MDMS), Accredited Social Heath Activists (ASHAs), National Health Mission (NHM), National Child Labour Project (NCLP), National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rozgar Sevaks of MGNREGA, Shiksha Mitras, Panchayat Sevaks etc. They are rendering commendable basic services mostly to lakhs of poor rural families including the agricultural workers, farmers and rural manual workers. Majority of both the workers and the beneficiaries, belong to socially marginalised sections. These scheme workers, many of whom are working for 10 to 40 years are not recognised as workers, not paid minimum wages and have no social security. Instead they are called ‘volunteers’ ’activists,’ ‘guests’ etc and are paid a pittance as ‘honourarium’ or ‘incentives’.
The 45th Indian Labour Conference (May 2013) recommended that scheme workers should be recognised as ‘workers’, paid minimum wage and ensured social security benefits. This was reiterated by the 46th Indian Labour Conference (2015). But none of the recommendations are implemented till date. Instead, the government had drastically cut down the budget allocation and is attempting to close down these schemes, many of which are providing statutory benefits.
In this situation, the 15th Conference of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) decided to go for one day all India strike of ‘Scheme Workers’ on January 20, 2017.
· Implement the recommendations of the 45th Indian Labour Conference
· Recognition as workers; minimum wages not less than Rs 18,000 per month linked to CPI; ensure pension not less than Rs 3000per month, gratuity, provident fund, medical benefits and other social security measures for all scheme workers
· No privatisation of the schemes
· Adequate financial allocation to social sector schemes in the budget 2017-18