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Delhi: Anganwadi workers ‘temporarily’ suspend strike after LG invokes ESMA

DSAWHU president Shivani said, “If the judiciary of the country is truly independent and impartial, it will revoke this illegal and unconstitutional order.”

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: March 11, 2022 1:22:26 am
DelhiThe DSAWHU said while it was “suspending” the strike for the time being, the struggle will continue in “three new forms”. (File photo)

Anganwadi workers, who have been protesting for 39 days outside the Chief Minister’s residence demanding an increase in their honorarium among other things, said they are suspending their indefinite strike for the time being after the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) was invoked against them by the Lieutenant Governor.

Anganwadi workers have been critical of the Delhi government for claiming that Delhi gives the highest honorarium to Anganwadi workers.

Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union (DSAWHU) president Shivani said, “Despite their relentless efforts, the BJP government in the Centre and the AAP government of Delhi failed to sabotage the strike. Finally, it is in this panic that they have mutually agreed to put a six-month halt to this unprecedented and historic strike of Delhi’s Anganwadi workers using the ESMA with the help of the Lieutenant Governor.”

She added, “It is worth noting that this law can be imposed only on government employees. But the government does not even give the status of a government employee to Anganwadi workers and helpers. It considers them as voluntary workers who work on honorariums. Then how can the honourable Lieutenant Governor of Delhi enforce ESMA here? Clearly, this step is completely unconstitutional and illegal.”

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The DSAWHU has decided to challenge the move in court. “If the judiciary of the country is truly independent and impartial, it will revoke this illegal and unconstitutional order and ensure the fundamental right to strike. If it is not a handmaiden of the government and the electoral parties, it will either order the government to regularise Anganwadi workers and give them the status of government employees or revoke ESMA,” said Shivani.

The DSAWHU said while it was “suspending” the strike for the time being, the struggle will continue in “three new forms”.

“First, we will get this unconstitutional and illegal imposition of ESMA revoked in the court of law and if we do not get justice from the judiciary, we will violate ESMA through civil disobedience and resume the strike,” said Shivani.

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She further said, “Second, during the municipal elections in Delhi, the 22,000 Anganwadi workers will completely boycott both the AAP and the BJP. Not only will the families of the 22,000 Anganwadi workers not vote for these two parties but they will also make the masses aware of their truth by running an unmasking campaign across the city. Third, the Anganwadi workers will not allow the leaders of BJP and AAP to enter their respective areas for campaigning. They have no right to show their faces to us. They will be welcomed with garlands of shoes and slippers and with soot,” she said.

Meanwhile, amid the strike, Women and Child Development Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam was divested of his portfolio Wednesday. Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot has been given charge of the department instead as per an official order.

The decision was taken by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and given a final approval by the LG. In a tweet Wednesday, Gahlot said, “After taking over as the Minister of Women and Child Development, held a meeting with the officers of the department today. I appeal to all the Anganwadi workers that for the future building and social development of the children of Delhi, let us all work shoulder to shoulder.”

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However, DSAWHU hit out at Gautam for holding talks with other trade union organisations and taking inadequate steps to ensure the strike ends.

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First published on: 10-03-2022 at 11:31:08 am

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