FOLLOWING the state government’s move to include anganwadi workers in the bracket of essential services to prevent them from striking work, the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said they would oppose the step in the ongoing session of legislature on Tuesday.
Last week, the state government invoked Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act, 2017 (MESMA) against anganwadi workers. The state government’s move came after anganwadi workers went on strike for 26 days last year while pressing for their demands including an increase in honorarium. There are 2.07 lakh anganwadi workers and helpers in the state.
On Monday, a delegation of anganwadi workers met Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. Apart from the opposition to being included within the ambit of MESMA, the delegation also raised issues such as non-fulfilment of the promise made in October last year that they would get two hikes, and regarding reducing their retirement age from 65 to 60.
MA Patil of the Maharashtra State Anganwadi Workers’ Action Committee said the anganwadi workers are not government employees. “They work on a honorarium and are not entitled to many government benefits. If the government considers them its employees, then the Seventh Pay Commission should apply to them,” said Patil.
“We will not allow the government to invoke MESMA on anganwadi workers. It is a draconian law to be applied to anganwadi workers. We will oppose it and take up the issue in both Houses of the state legislature tomorrow,” said Uddhav.
Earlier in the day, senior NCP leader Dhananjay Munde, who is leader of opposition in the legislative council, raised the issue in the upper House saying MESMA should not be invoked against anganwadi workers.
“It is the government’s dictatorship to stop them from protesting. These anganwadi workers don’t have any other source of income and many of them are widows and single women. The government is not giving them satisfactory honorarium. It is an injustice to them,” said Munde.