All-India Anganwadi worker and helper strike on February 1

Unions express solidarity, give a nationwide call for protests

worker and helper strike

Condemning the termination of Haryana’s protesting Anganwadi and helpers, unions called for an all-India protest on February 1, 2022. The All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) denounced the BJP-JJP-led Haryana government for ignoring workers demands. It also protested the alleged filing of fake cases against them.

This call for protests comes at a time when more than 50,000 workers are on strike since December 8, 2021 for the increased honorarium and job regularisation promised to them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced on September 11, 2018, that helpers would receive ₹4,500 instead of ₹3,000 while Anganwadi workers would get ₹2,200 instead of ₹1,500. However, four years down the line, workers have still not received these benefits.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on December 29, 2021, announced that their monthly honorarium will be increased and that they will get arrears for two years, along with an incentive of Rs 1,000 each for working as frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Astonishingly, the latter incentive was only promised to those workers who returned to duty on January 12, 2022.

“This ‘incentive’ made by the CM in his unilateral announcement for all those Anganwadi and mini-Anganwadi workers and helpers who risked their lives doing Covid duty is now being used as ‘traitor incentive’ to break the strike. This is illegal, unethical and unheard anywhere,” said A. R. Sindhu, General Secretary AIFAWH.

Far from alleviating pain, the protesters dismissed this announcement, and asked why benefits announced in 2018 have still not been implemented.

Similarly, Khattar gad also announced one-time retirement benefits of ₹1 lakh and ₹ 50,000 for the Anganwadi workers and helpers respectively. Here too the department asked for a list of the people who retired by December 31, 2021 but only those workers who were not on strike.

“Government is now trying to break the strike by organising training for ‘play way school’ for workers when schools and offices are closed due to Covid-19. The government is also resorting to a misinformation campaign on benefits for Anganwadi workers and helpers in other states,” said Sindhu.

The 52-day long strike called by the Joint coordination committee of Anganwadi unions stresses this question along with a demand for the non-privatisation of pre-school in Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).

The strike was also steadily gaining more support, as seen on January 12 when women garnered mass mobilisation for the ‘jail bharo’ demonstration. However, instead of acknowledging these protests and calling for a dialogue, the government removed over 25 union leaders from their position as anganwadi workers and helpers. The AIFAWH called the move “unfair labour practice and illegal”. Shakunatala, who is the State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers General Secretary and AIFAWH Secretary, was also falsely implicated in many cases.

“We strongly condemn this action and demand immediate reinstatement of the retrenched workers in the state,” said Sindhu.

The AIFAWH called it shameful that the government took more than 20 days to call the striking union for a negotiation. It stressed that anganwadi and helpers services are crucial for child development as well as pandemic-management. As such, it promised solidarity with the state workers and called for protests across India.

“We demand that the government immediately stop repression of the striking employees and restart the dialogue with the unions so as to reach an amicable settlement,” said the AIFAWH.


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