Vice-President All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) K. Hemlata today expressed serious concern over non allocation of adequate financial resources for Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) to improve the condition of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers. Instead, she said, the government of India has decided to run ICDS in a mission mode which means after concentrating on it for some time it will be stopped.
Hemlata was addressing Anganwari workers and helpers who had assembled here at Sher-e-Kashmir Park Srinagar. The workers and helpers later staged a protest demonstration that started at S.K.Park and culminated at Press enclave.
She said that ICDS has been playing an important role in reducing malnutrition, but the government’s apathetic attitude has been creating hurdles. “Besides privatization of nursery schools for pre-school education, the government has decided to privatize 10% of ICDS projects by handing them over to NGO’s, Corporates. There is no provision for increasing the wages of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers or providing them with social security benefits. But the mission says that the Anganwadi workers and Helpers should be retired at the age of 65 Years,” she said.
Hemlata observed that because of the efforts of CITU the Indian Labour Conference (45th Session) has discussed the conditions of scheme workers including Anganwadi Workers and Helpers, ASHA’s etc. as an agenda item. They should be recognized as workers, paid minimum wages and social security benefits, but the government is not ready to implement these recommendations. All India Federation is fighting against this attitude of government. A black day was observed on July 10th and the Federation has decided to continue the struggle by holding convention along with the beneficiary organizations involving the people at State and District level and also through big mobilizations all over the country. It has also decided to participate in joint Trade Union programmes on 25th September and 12th December, she said.
Jameela Sabiri General Secretary JKAWHU, Naseema Kuchay President JKAWHU, Spinder Kour Treasurer and Kanta Devi Anganwadi leader urged the Government to immediately release the arrears in favour of the Anganwadi workers and helpers under Central and State share, besides ensuring time bound promotions in various cadres of the Social Welfare Department. They said that Anganwadi workers and helpers, the grass root workers of the ICDS scheme should be entitled to decent living. Their immediate demands which include payment of gratuity, the formulation of a pension scheme to ensure that these women workers do not languish in their old age: immediate enhancement of their meager remuneration to the consumer price index: payment of minimum wages and withdrawal of attempts to privatize ICDS must be fulfilled forthwith. A standing mechanism must be put in place in Ministry of women and Child Development for revision in the rates of Honorarium of Anganwadi workers and helpers. Anganwadi workers and helpers should be covered by the EPF and ESI Act for regularization of their services as Govt, employee, besides Anaganwadi Centres must be made as noodle centers to impart pre-school education.
Others who spoke on the occasion include Abdul Rashid Najar, Joint Secretary CITU, CITU leaders Sham Prasad Kesar and Om Prakash Sharma. These leaders demanded release of pay dues to the newly appointed workers, conversion of ICDS as a separate department and demanded provision of pensionary benefits to the workers and helpers.
The protestors were carrying banners, placards and shouting slogans demanding regularization of their services as Class III and Class IV employees with immediate increase in their honorarium to Rs. 5000 and Rs 4000 per month respectively. They were also demanding release of training grants in favour of the workers and helpers without any delay and providing of T.A, D.A for attending different meetings like pulse polio, Aids Awareness Programme e