In a first, the education department has issued orders to provide Identity Cards (ID) to mid-day meal cooks in government schools of Punjab. The orders have been issued by director school Education (elementary) ordering school management committees (SMCs) of all government schools in Punjab to issue identity cards to mid-day cooks cum helpers. A standard format has also been issued by the department to make ID cards.It was a long pending demand of mid-day meal workers in Punjab to have ID cards as according to them it will add dignity to their job. However, the mid-day meal workers have demanded that they also want uniforms and government should specify a dress code for them as they want dignity and respect in their jobs.
A meeting of mid-day meal cooks union was held in Ludhiana Tuesday. Manjit Kaur, president of Ludhiana unit of the union said, “We appreciate orders of government to give us ID cards. But we also want a dress code and proper uniforms so that we are respected and considered an integral part of school staff. Currently, some government schools are providing uniforms to cooks at their own level but not all teachers or SMCs can afford that. We want the government to provide uniforms to all mid-day meal workers across Punjab.”
Another demand is the hike in their monthly honorarium which is currently Rs 1,700 per month in Punjab. “We should be paid at least Rs 9,000 a month which is Rs 300 a day which is completely justified,” said Kaur. Moreover, they are demanding that they should be given an insurance cover in case of any mishap while cooking food in schools.
Inderjit Singh, director elementary school education, Punjab said, “It was a long pending demand of mid-day meal cooks to have ID cards.
Since SMCs hire cooks, they have been ordered to issue cards too.” He claimed that Punjab government is already paying Rs 700 a month extra to mid-day meal cooks.
“Their current pay as per MHRD rules is Rs 1,000 a month of which state government gives Rs 600 based on 60:40 sharing pattern with the central government. Even then we have increased their pay by Rs 700 and they are getting Rs 1,700/month now. So Punjab government is already giving Rs 1,300 a month,” he said. He added there is no plan to introduce uniforms for them as of now.