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Continuing their strike over pending demands of a hike in salaries, hundreds of anganwadi workers Monday staged a protest at Vikas Sadan near the Mini Secretariat office in Gurgaon, blocking the entry of people on the premises.
The workers raised slogans and burned an effigy of officials demanding that some of their workers who were terminated be re-employed and false cases filed against them be withdrawn immediately.
Union leaders leading the protest said that over 40,000 anganwadi workers and helpers across the state have been protesting since December 8. The workers are demanding implementation of an announcement made by the Prime Minister in September 2018 to increase the monthly honorarium by Rs 1,500 for anganwadi workers and Rs 750 for helpers. In addition, the workers are demanding a dearness allowance, as is paid to government employees, and retirement benefits.
Sarla Yadav, member of state committee, Haryana anganwadi workers and helpers union, said, “Our main demand is that the government should declare us as government employees. If not, the government should give Rs 24,000 as a monthly honorarium to workers and Rs 18,000 to helpers. In an address in September 2018, the PM had given a commitment that honorarium for workers and helpers will be hiked, but it has been more than three years and nothing has changed. In the Vidhan Sabha, the Chief Minister of Haryana had said anganwadi workers would be given the status of skilled workers and helpers would be given the status of unskilled workers. None of these commitments has been implemented.”
Earlier last week, the anganwadi workers had gheraoed Gurgaon MLA Sudhir Singla’s house in the district. On January 12, the protesting workers had courted arrests in several districts. With workers and helpers intensifying their protests, operations at over 26,000 anganwadi centres across the state have been hit.
Anganwadi workers said that they had been protesting for 48 days, and in several districts, their union workers have been issued termination notices. “In Gurgaon, four union workers have been terminated and FIRs have been filed against workers on false charges of obstructing duties of public servants. We have not broken any law. A prior intimation regarding the protest was given to authorities in writing and over email. We are not criminals. We are peacefully registering our protest for our legitimate demands,” said Rachna, a union member.
Workers said that during successive waves of Covid, the government had declared them ‘frontline workers’ and they were out carrying out surveys for suspected Covid cases and for vaccination drives. “We are doing all the duties of government workers, but when it comes to classification, the officials say that we are not government employees and are only entitled to an honorarium,” said another anganwadi worker, requesting anonymity.
A government official, requesting anonymity, said, “The workers staged a protest outside Vikas Sadan entrance and shared their demands with the officers. By 3 pm, the protesters dispersed. Talks are continuing to find a solution.”
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