Anganwadi workers gearing up for a “jail bharo andolan” on Friday called off their agitation in the evening following a meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The anganwadi workers, who have been on strike for 26 days, will resume their duties from Monday. Representatives of the anganwadi workers’ union said they decided to call off the strike after Fadnavis assured them that he would consider a seniority-based system to increase their honorarium.
The Maharashtra Anganwadi Workers’ Action Committee, however, said the meeting with the CM was not entirely satisfactory. “Although the meeting was not completely satisfactory, we decided to call off the strike after the chief minister agreed to a few of our demands. We had asked for considering seniority for increasing the honorarium, and Fadnavis agreed to it. Besides, he also assured us a five percent hike in honorarium from April 1, 2018,” said Shubha Shamim of the committee.
Shamim added that the hike in honorarium based on seniority of workers will come into effect from this month itself. “We were insisting on increasing the honorarium retrospectively from April but Fadnavis expressed his inability to do so. Hence, it will come into effect from October,” Shamim said.
“Fadnavis expressed his inability to increase the honorarium as per the government-appointed committee that had recommended payment of Rs 8,500 to Rs 13,000. He cited the state’s financial crisis for that.”
Last month, Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde had announced a hike in honorarium from Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,500 for anganwadi workers and from Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,500 for anganwadi helpers. “This had increased the financial burden on the state by Rs 311 crore. Now, having agreed to the seniority criteria, it has added another
Rs 40 crore burden and it will come into immediate effect. Our government has increased the honorarium twice in the last three years,” said Munde.
The anganwadi workers have been on strike since September 11 seeking a rise in honorarium and demanding a new scheme in place of the Take Home Rations as supplementary nutrition for children at the anganwadis. There are 2,06,000 workers in the state’s 97,000 anganwadis, operating schemes like supplementary nutrition and health services for children and daycare for pre-primary schoolchildren.
On Friday, the anganwadi workers had planned a “jail bharo andolan” to press for their demands. The agitation was cancelled after the union received a message from the chief minister’s office inviting them for a meeting in the evening. Earlier this week, a delegation of Shiv Sena leaders had met Fadnavis seeking a resolution with regards to the demands of the anganwadi workers. The CM had then promised to meet the anganwadi workers in two days to resolve their issues.