The assurance of a pay hike has cut no ice with a section of Delhi’s anganwadi staffers, who have been striking work for a week, prompting the government to reiterate that it will stick to its “commitment”. Atishi Marlena, adviser to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, wondered what purpose was being served by continuing the agitation when the government had made it “abundantly clear” that the new allowances would be set in accordance with the prevailing minimum wages. The decision of a section of the staffers to continue the agitation has also created rift within various unions.
Accusing the government of making “false promises”, a section of the anganwadi workers and helpers intensified their agitation, with a few resorting to a relay hunger strike near the residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
“Kejriwal had assured us of a pay hike way back in 2015. Even then workers were being paid Rs 5,000 per month and helpers Rs 2,500. There has not been any raise as promised,” Yogesh Swami of the Delhi Anganwadi Worker-Helper Association said.
Marlena said that the situation had changed after the minimum wages were notified in the city. Back then, the proposal of the government to hike the minimum wages were held back by the Lt Governor’s office.
“Now it has been notified. Plus we are also past the Model Code of Conduct that was in force during the MCD polls. So the government is actively pursuing the matter and the hikes will be effected soon,” she said.
A government official, on condition of anonymity, said that action might be taken against the striking workers as the agitation had affected the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme in the city, under which the anganwadis fall.
Yesterday, following a meeting with a delegation of the association, Sisodia had announced that the government would soon hike the allowances of the workers and helpers.
But the agitators claimed that delegation did not “represent” them and that it was a “ploy” to create a wrong perception about the strike.
There are around 11,000 anganwadi centres in Delhi, while workers and helpers collectively number around 22,000.
A senior police official said around 1,000 anganwadi workers gathered at the protest near Kejriwal’s Flag Staff Road residence on Thursday.