Alleging that Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Pankaja Munde was attempting to break the angawandi workers’ unity to end their strike, the Maharashtra Anganwadi Workers’ Action Committee has sought Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s intervention to resolve the issues amicably.
Referring to Munde’s meeting with an anganwadi workers’ union on Friday, Sukumar Damle of the committee alleged that she was attempting to break the unity of the anganwadi workers and end the strike. “That union has negligible presence. The government’s attempt is similar to that of breaking the farmers’ strike in June in which it failed badly. There is complete unity among the anganwadi workers and all anganwadi workers are with us,” said Damle.
The anganwadi workers’ union met Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday and it will organise a rally on September 27 at Azad Maidan. Thackeray has extended his support to the union and is set to address the gathering. Anganwadi workers have been on an indefinite strike since September 11 demanding a hike in their honorarium. There are 2,06,000 workers in the state’s 97,000 anganwadis. In Mumbai, there are around 10,000 workers in 5,000 anganwadis.
Munde, during a meeting with an anganwadi workers’ union from Navi Mumbai, which is not part of the action committee, announced the government would increase the workers’ monthly honorarium to Rs 6,500 from Rs 5,000 and for the helpers, to Rs 3,500 from Rs 2,500. On Tuesday, the government promised an increasing of Rs 950 for anganwadi workers and a hike of Rs 500 for helpers. “After we urged the workers to join their duties, the work of providing food has started in almost 25 per cent anganwadis in the state. We are positive about their demands and urge them to resume work,” said Munde.
The committee said the government should concentrate on resolving the issue through dialogue. “When we met Munde few days ago, she asked us to withdraw the strike first and then we can discuss about the demands, including increase in honorarium. Is this a way to resolve the issue? We have sought the chief minister’s intervention,” said M A Patil of the committee.