The Centre would soon extend benefits under ESIC and EPFO to the Anganwadi, ASHA and mid-day meal scheme workers in the country, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said at Hyderabad on Tuesday. “We are going to give all Anganwadi workers, ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists) workers, mid-day meal workers. 90 per cent of them are women. The idea is to give them ESIC and EPFO. They have been agitating for years now. They have no social security for them. They are serving the government, not private. I have formed a committee comprising Women and Child Development ministry, HRD ministry, our (Labour) ministry and Health ministry. I am pleased to tell you that Finance Minister has also agreed to this,” he said.
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Dattatreya was making concluding comments at a round-table conference he held with several prominent women personalities at Hyderabad on the eve of International Women’s Day.
Noting that the NDA government has taken several major steps for the benefit of women work force in the country, he said the government is committed to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in legislatures and that it will talk to other political parties on the issue.
Observing that the government has initiated electoral and financial sector reforms, he said it is aware of the 33 per cent quota for women issue as well.
Orders have been given to provide 33 per cent reservation in recruiting police constables and seven states have come forward to implement it, he said.
Formal sector workers would soon be eligible for up to Rs 20 lakh tax-free gratuity as central trade unions have agreed on the proposal in a tripartite consultation with the Labour Ministry last month.
“Gratuity is very important. Gratuity, now they are getting Rs 10 lakh. I am going to increase Rs 20 lakh for all. I have done the tri-partite meeting. In the tri-partite meeting, employer and employee, both of them are agreeing,” Dattatreya said.
Asserting that the government would strictly implement the equal remuneration act in all establishments, he said tough punishment would be given to those indulging in gender discrimination.
Dattatreya said he would recommend providing loans to women for procuring software tools to work from home (in the IT industry) and also discuss the issue with Finance Minister.
He said he would work out in his ministry on assuring same level of employment for women after maternity.
On a suggestion from the participants, he said he would talk to Health Minister J P Nadda on opening medical colleges for women, especially in rural areas.