Not getting the desired response to their indefinite agitation, the Anganwadi workers union has decided to meet Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday to seek his intervention. The move comes after the state government asked the Anganwadi workers to withdraw the strike first to consider their demands.
After a meeting with Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Pankaja Munde on Tuesday, the Anganwadi workers union met WCD officials to discuss the demand to increase the honorarium. The Maharashtra Anganwadi Workers’ Action Committee said that the department offered to increase the monthly honorarium of Anganwadi sevikas by Rs 950 and helpers by Rs 500. The Anganwadi workers have been on an indefinite strike from September 11.
“The officials said that the hike could be given only after withdrawal of the strike. Our demand is to increase honorarium from the current Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,500 for Anganwadi sevikas as recommended by a panel set up by government,” said MA Patil of the Committee. Patil said that the department officials did not even promise to consider their demands in near future.
“They stated that whatever the Anganwadi workers is getting is enough. So, it is clear that the government is not serious about our demands,” he said adding that the Committee would meet Thackeray on Wednesday. “We have sought his time to discuss our issues and would request him to take a stand on it,” said Patil.
Officials from the WCD department said that the demands could not be accepted due to financial crunch. “To raise the honorarium to Rs 10,500, it would require Rs 1,300 crore approximately. The department’s budget this year is Rs 960 crore. How is it possible to meet their demand? So, we gave them an offer on the lines of an increase given in 2014,” said a senior official.
The official said that the government is keen on giving a reasonable and acceptable increase in their honorarium. The official, however, questioned whether it was right to hold the government to ransom for it and put children, pregnant women and lactating mothers at risk.