In continuation with their long-pending demands for better wages and permanent employment, Anganwadi workers across Maharashtra plan to go on a protest from February 20 ahead of the state’s Budget presentation in March.
For the last one year, Anganwadi workers have been in a tussle with the Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry over their demands. Several protests were held across the state, including at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan ground, after which the previous Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) dispensation had assured to increase their honorarium. However, the sudden change in the government left them in the lurch again.
In Maharashtra, an Anganwadi worker gets Rs 8,000 and a helper is paid Rs 4,000 as honorarium. The workers have long pointed out that the amount is “insignificant” compared to the number of tasks they have to carry out. “We have to go on foot from one village to another for the national immunisation programme, implement schemes to provide nutrition for mothers and children and check for cases of malnourishment, besides providing cooked food and non-vocational educational training at our centre. Despite this work pressure, we are paid peanuts,” said Kamal Parulekar, secretary, Anganwadi Sevika Union.
“We are going back and forth with our needs. But this time, we will go on an indefinite strike. We are in the process of chalking down the programmes,” Parulekar added.
The union has raised the demand to include them in the government’s permanent payroll. Until this demand is met, they have sought that Anganwadi workers must be paid Rs 18,000 and the helpers be given Rs 12,000 as an interim arrangement.
“As we are not permanent employees, we do not get benefits like pension and medical insurance. With this honorary money, we cannot have any savings for the future,” said Sunita Shelar, an Anganwadi worker from Palghar.
Last year, the Delhi government raised the honorarium of Anganwadi workers to Rs 12,720 following protests, besides increasing conveyance and communication allowance to Rs 1,500. “The size and population density of Maharashtra is more than Delhi, but our demands are being ignored. This government will have to enact the promises given by the previous minister,” Parulekar said.