THOUSANDS of Anganwadi workers and helpers have been carrying out continuous struggle in Haryana since February 16, demanding regularisation of their jobs. The CITU-affiliated union of Anganwadi workers and helpers gave a call for an indefinite strike on February 19 to press the demand. All 25,000 Anganwadi centres in the state are shut from that date and more than 50,000 workers and helpers are on strike. Everyday thousands of workers and helpers participate in dharnas at district headquarters all over the state.
As the protests by Anganwadi workers and helpers intensified, the government of Haryana called union representatives for talks on February 26 and 27. Besides the CITU-affiliated body, three other unions were invited for the meeting. One group was led by the BMS and another by the AIUTUC. In the meeting with union representatives on February 28, the chief minister gave a proposal to enhance the wage of Anganwadi workers and helpers. At present, Anganwadi workers get Rs 8,140 per month and helpers Rs 4,070 per month in Haryana. The chief minister also proposed that Anganwadi workers below 10 years of service will be treated as ‘semi-skilled’ and above 10 years of service as ‘skilled’ workers.
In principle, the CITU-led union agree to the proposal. But our view is that workers must be treated as ‘skilled’ and ‘highly skilled’. We also demanded that helpers be treated as ‘unskilled’ worker. We also demanded retirement benefits and pension. As the government refused to accept the proposals, negotiations failed.
However, on March 1, the chief minister announced the state government’s wage hike proposal. BMS and AIUTUC representatives were present with the chief minister during the announcement and they thanked the government for the move. As per the announcement, Anganwadi workers will get Rs 10,286 per month for the first 10 years of service and Rs 11,429 afterwards, and helpers’ wage will be Rs 5,725 per month.
Anganwadi workers and helpers rejected the announcement. The CITU-affiliated union rejected the proposal and boycotted a meeting with the principal secretary of the women and child development department, the nodal agency for implementation of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), of which Anganwadi is a part.
The strike by Anganwadi workers and helpers continued and on March 5, a state-level rally was organised by the CITU in Karnal, the assembly constituency of the chief minister. Around 20,000 workers and helpers attended the rally. On the same day, another group staged a protest in state capital Chandigarh where the Haryana Assembly is in session.