Delhi: Anganwadi Workers on Strike

July 31, 2015

Great Victory for ‘Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union’ (DSAWHU)
Anganwadi workers movement forces the Kejriwal Government to accept all demands

August 1, Delhi. On the 23rd day of the Dharna and the 7th day of Indefinite Hunger Strike, the Kejriwal government finally gave in to the demands of the Anganwadi workers. It is noteworthy that the Anganwadi workers and helpers of Delhi were on strike since July 7. The Kejriwal government of Delhi had been refusing to even meet the workers and listen to their demands. As a result, the workers first resorted to relay hunger strike of 3 days from 20th to 22nd July and then to indefinite hunger strike from 23rd July to 29th July. Meanwhile, the women workers of anganwadi sent a letter to the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and National Human Rights Commission. Besides, a delegation of striking workers also met the principal secretary of Lt. Gov. Najeeb Jung. The Lt. Governer’s Office had sent a letter to the Kejriwal government’s Child and Women Development Minister Sandeep Kumar and his secretary, asking for explanation.

The workers had been demanding the payment of unpaid earned wages. Most of the workers had not received their honorarium for 8-9 months and a number of families were facing the prospects of starvation because many anganwadi women workers are the sole breadwinner in their family. They had also been demanding the issue of an identity card because in the absence of any identity card the supervisors and CDPO in the anganwadi centres often harass them and force them to do jobs that are not part of their obligations. Besides, the workers demanded the implementation of the special insurance scheme for the anganwadi workers and payment of allowance for the Sabla scheme. The movement of anganwadi workers grew with every day especially after 19th July, when the relay hunger strike started. The gathering of workers used to be around 300 to 500 before 19th July. However, from 21st July the gathering crossed the number of 1000 everyday and reached to around 3500 on 26th and 29th July. The growing number of women workers on the site of dharna led to the closure of increasing number of anganwadi centres and created a huge pressure on the government. Moreover, the huge rally of 26th July jammed the Ring Road near Vidhan Sabha for more than an hour and the Police was helpless due to the large number of women workers.

Besides the victory of the movement in terms of the demands won, the greatest achievement of the movement was the emergence of a new independent union of anganwadi workers of Delhi, i.e., ‘Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union’ (DSAWHU) and the peripheralization of agent trade union federations of the electoral parties among the anganwadi workers of Delhi. It is noteworthy that representatives of one such federation came to the dharna of workers twice and urged them to end the dharna till they organize a nationwide movement of anganwadi workers! However, the workers did not pay heed to them and drove them away. Similarly, some activists of the NGOs who are running a few anganwadi centres also came to the venue of strike and tried to persuade the workers to end their movement. However, the workers shouted them away. It was the conscious efforts of the workers and the leadership of the new union that prevented different kinds of agents to penetrate the movement and thus ensure the victory of the movement.

On July 28, Arvind Kejriwal met one of the representatives of the movement at his house and invited their delegation to the Delhi Secretariat the next day. Next day a 5-member delegation of DSAWHU met Arvind Kejriwal and held talks for 45 minutes after which the CM accepted all the immediate demands of the workers and assured that the government will definitely consider the long-term political demands of the workers. Delhi government issued a written agreement to the Union on its letter-pad mentioning the fact that the government has accepted all demands. The Child and Women Development Minister Sandeep Kumar along with two of Delhi Government’s secretaries brought the letter of agreement to the venue of the dharna. It was a huge victory for the movement. The workers took out a huge Victory March on July 29 from Civil Lines to Vidhan Sabha. Almost 3000 workers participated in the march.

Shivani, the legal advisor of the Union said, “the struggle has just begun. Until the anganwadi women workers are given the formal recognition as workers by the government and all the legal entitlements of workers, the movement will continue. Right now, it is time to consolidate the victory of our immediate demands. However, we will soon launch a new movement for the fulfilment of our long-term demands.” Radha, member of the leading committee of the Union said, “Under the pressure of our movement, the Kejriwal government has increaded the honorarium of anganwadi workers from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 6000 for 4 hour work and the honorarium of anganwadi helpers from Rs. 2500 to Rs. 3000 for 4 hour work. The due salaries have been paid. However, we wills struggle for the status of permanent workers from the government. For this very purpose, the Union has called a general body meeting on August 9, Sunday.”

The DSAWHU is going to hold its first General Body Meeting on August 9. This meeting will discuss the future strategy for the Anganwadi workers’ movement and also the legal aspects of the struggle like the registration of the Union. More than 2000 union membership forms had been filled during the strike.

Shivani Kaul
(Spokesperson)
9599458044
Delhi State Aanganwadi Workers and Helpers Union

***********************

July 27, 2015
Statement from Delhi State Aanganwadi Workers and Helpers Union

 

 


3rd Day of Indefinite Hunger Strike of Aanganwadi Workers
Condition of hunger strikers becomes serious; Kejriwal Government at its callous best, Kejriwal refuses to listen to striking workers
Lt. Gov. Najeeb Jung gives appointment to striking workers of Aanganbadi to resolve the issue.

July 25, Delhi. The struggle of Aanganbadi women workers entered its 19th day today and their indefinite hunger strike entered its 3rd day. Condition of one of the strikers, Sunita Pundir, has become critical. Other strikers also are in serious condition. Meanwhile, a delegation of Aanganwadi workers tried to meet Arvind Kejriwal on July 24 in Babarpur, where he was present to attend to ceremony. However, AAP volunteers manhandled the Aanganwadi workers and tried to drive them away. All of this happened in front of Arvind Kejriwal. AAP volunteers said that if you are not getting wages, why don’t you do some other work! Showing the height of insensitivity, Arvind Kejriwal did not even talk to them.

Despite this attitude of Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP government, the strength of the struggling workers is growing with every passing day. They are staging a round-the-clock sit-in protest at Civil Lines. The number of Aanganbadi workers present during the day is increasing and has already reached near 700. Tomorrow, the striking workers have called for a grand mobilization at the strike venue, that is, outside the house of CM Kejriwal. Kejriwal government on the one hand is attacking the Police administration and on the other, it is using Police force to break the indefinite hunger strike. A group of police personnel came to the strike venue on the night of 24th July and forced the strikers to remove a small piece of tent which was being used to cover the heads of the hunger strikers. The real intent was to take them into custody. However, Police failed to do so. Frustrated by this failure, Kejriwal Government has ordered the police not to allow the strikers to use any piece of tent to cover themselves even during rain. However, this backdoor arm-twisting also did not work. On 25th July, the co-workers of the strikers stood their holding the tent in their hands to protest the hunger strikers from rain. Finally the Police gave in and allowed to put the tent during the rain. Apparently, the Kejriwal government is using every trick in the trade to break the indefinite hunger strike.

Meanwhile, the Delhi State Aanganbadi Workers and Helpers Union, that is leading the struggle, wrote to the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and also went to meet Lt. Gov. Najeeb Jung. Mr. Jung has invited a delegation of Aanganbadi workers to meet on Monday morning. The workers are also considering to file a case against the Kejriwal government. It is noteworthy that the workers have not been paid their honorarium (earned wages) for last 8-9 months. A number of these women workers are the sole breadwinners in the family and they are facing the prospects of starvation. In effect, the Kejriwal government is denying them the right to live and is shamelessly spending Rs. 526 crore on ridiculous advertisements of its failed governance. The Union leadership said that the struggle is going strong and Kejriwal will have to pay the political price for its misdeeds against the working class of Delhi. He has proved to be a “dalaal” of the capitalists and wealthy merchants of Delhi. He came into politics shouting about clean politics, corruption-free politics, ethics and morality and now 21 of his MLAs are facing criminal charges and 2 of them have just got bail! This shows the true colors of AAP’s politics and also exposes its betrayal of the common working people of Delhi. Union leadership told that the leading committee of the Union has decided to boycott every activity of AAP and its government even after the ongoing struggle. Aanganwadi workers have prepared a resolution to boycott AAP government in the coming MCD elections. Radha, an Aanganwadi worker, argued, “It is necessary to teach a lesson to these political clowns.”

Shivani Kaul
(Spokesperson)
Delhi State Aanganwadi Workers and Helpers Union

***********************

Anganwadi Workers of Delhi on Strike

Protesting Anganbadi workers burnt effigy of Kejriwal at Delhi Secreatariat and declare to sit on a sequential hunger strike closing all the Anganbadi centres across Delhi till their demnds are met.

Scores of Anganbadi Workers from across Delhi gathered today at Delhi Secretariat to raise their demands in front of the Kejriwal Government. The workers were welcomed by Police with a barricade erected at Kisan Ghat. The Police tried to contain the rally at Kisan Ghat however the workers continued to march ahead breaking the barricade on their way and assembled their gathering at the Electric Power House near the Delhi secretariat. The Anganbadi Workers of Delhi have been on strike since the 7 of July this month. The striking workers have been protesting everyday outside the civil lines located residence of Mr Arvind Kejriwal. But the Government has paid no attention to their demands whatsoever. The striking workers are demanding that they be regularized and given permanent appointments, 8 hour work day, minimum wage and other benefits given to a government employee. Anganbadi is a government sponsored child-care and mother-care program which relies solely on the work of the Anganbadi workers most of which are women.

The protestors demanded that they be allowed to hold their protest demonstration outside Delhi secretariat however huge number of Police force deployed was deployed to prevent the protestors from reaching the Delhi secretariat. The workers held their protest demonstration near the Electric Power House. Various workers present addressed their fellow workers and shared the determination for the fight to achieve their common cause.

Bigul Mazdoor Dasta has been supporting the strike of the Anganbadi workers and standing in solidarity with workers in their fight for their rights. Shivani from Bigul Mazdoor Dasta said while addressing the workers that “We will not give up and get discouraged by the negligence of the authorities. We have been denied of our rights by the Government. We toil to provide health-care, medical assistance, nutrition to millions of urban and rural poor while working with the least amount of facilities and infrastructure. We are not deemed as government employees and taking advantage of this technicality we, although engaged in work of perennial nature are denied of minimum wage, E.S.I , P.F and other benefits. We will fight till we get our rights.”  A team of representatives went to submit the memorandum of demands with the Chief Minister office however no government official met with the representatives or cared to give any assurance regarding the matter. The Anganbadi workers decided unanimously to launch a non-coperation movement against the government by closing all the Anganbadi centres across Delhi and to sit on a sequential hunger strike outside Arvind Kejriwal’s residence till the Government accepts their demand and fulfills the electoral promise that they made to the workers of Delhi. The protesting workers also burnt an effigy of Arvind Kejriwal.

On 16 July 2015 the Anganwadi workers organized a Chetavni Rally from Civil Lines to Delhi Vidhan Sabha to send across a message to the Delhi Government that they are in for the long haul and will not give up their fight until their demands are met.

The Anganbadi workers are involved in looking after the education, nutrition, immunization and health of lakhs of pre-school children and providing health care and assistance to expectant and nursing mothers. The Anganbadi workers form the backbone of the program where in one Anganbadi worker caters to a 1000 people in her area. The urban poor in Delhi rely heavily on the services and assistance of the Anganbadi workers from pre-natal care to accessing information about immunization. But even after being allotted such important duties the working conditions of the Anganbadi workers are very grave. They survive on a meagre incentive of Rs. 4000 per month and are not given any other benefit or honorarium, they have no fixed hours of working. Apart from looking after malnutritioned children, poor and expecting mothers they have to do birth and death registrations and recently they also have been assigned election duties for which they receive no additional remuneration. The workers have been exploited by the authorities since the very inception of the program and  they have been from time to time raising their voice against this injustice.

Last year in July scores of Anganbadi workers from Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh had come to Delhi to protest against this exploitation and demand a raise in their salary with the Central Government. The workers demanded that 4 July be celebrated as ‘Demands day’ against the privatization of the Integrated Child Development Services in the name of ‘ICDS Mission’ and for the implementation of the recommendations of the 45th Indian Labour Conference recognizing the scheme workers as government employees, paying them minimum wages, providing them pension. However no progress has been made since on this front either by the Central Government or the State Government. The Anganbadi workers continue to be ignored and marginalized while they toil day in and day out to provide services of critical importance to the countries poor.

This year the Anganbadi workers have been on strike for the last 10 days to raise their demands in front of the incumbent Aam Aadmi Government, since AAP itself in its 70 point action plan for Delhi promised to regularize workers employed on Contractual Labour system. The workers demand that the government fulfill its electoral promise that it made to them without any delay. The working class of Delhi voted for the Aam Aadmi Party believing that they will deliver on the promises made to them however even after more than 100 days of having been in power no substantial announcements or plans have been declared to regularize the largest work force that works on contractual labour system. The demands of the striking Anganwadi workers are:

  1. The workers should be regularized, given permanent appointments and an 8 hour work day. The description of their work should be clearly stated.
  2. The workers should be given ID cards. They should be given a fixed salary instead of an incentive and the salary should be paid by the 10th of every month.
  3. The workers should be given E.S.I and P.F cards alongwith all the other facilities given to a government employee.
  4. The workers should get summer and winter holidays.
  5. The workers should be provided with pension upon retirement.

Sunny Singh
(Convener, Delhi)
Bigul Mazdoor Dasta
9873358124

UPDATE- July 22, 2015

The Aanganbadi workers started Hunger Strike from July 18 and it is into its 5th day. Still the Kejriwal government has refused to listen to their demands. However, the Delhi Aanganbadi Workers-Helpers Union has expressed its resolve to continue the movement. Striking women workers of Aanganbadi have started picketing in different parts of Delhi and have successfully closed a number of Aanganbadi centres. As a result, the mobilization outside CM’s house is increasing with everyday.

The union has made a strike fund and has appealed to the progressive intelligentsia, progressive women organizations, student organizations and individuals to send their contributions to it. Besides, the Aanganbadi workers themselves have contributed to the fund so that families of Aanganbadi helpers could be supported during the strike. On July 21 almost 500 hundred Aanganbadi workers had gathered outside CM’s house. They organized a formal general body meeting and constituted their new union. Forms of union membership were filled and the chosen leading committee has been handed over the responsibility of filing the registration papers in the DLC office of North-East Delhi, who is also the union registrar. The general body also took the decision to boycott all electoral parties and their lackey trade union federations and also appealed to all the workers associated with these TU federations to overthrow the renegade leaders associated with the parties like CPI, CPM, Congress, BJP, SUCI and different shades of so-called Socialists. The general body meeting also passed a resolution to boycott all NGOs and voluntary organizations.

Moreover, workers teams performed a number of struggle songs and leaders of various independent unions and Bigul Mazdoor Dasta addressed the gathering.

————

The Anganbadi Workers of Delhi have been on strike since the 7 of July this month. The striking workers have been protesting everyday outside the civil lines located residence of Mr Arvind Kejriwal. But the Government has paid no attention to their demands whatsoever. The striking workers are demanding that they be regularized and given permanent appointments, 8 hour work day, minimum wage and other benefits given to a government employee. Anganbadi is a government sponsored child-care and mother-care program which relies solely on the work of the Anganbadi workers most of which are women.

The Anganbadi workers are involved in looking after the education, nutrition, immunization and health of lakhs of pre-school children and providing health care and assistance to expectant and nursing mothers. The Anganbadi workers form the backbone of the program where in one Anganbadi worker caters to a 1000 people in her area. The urban poor in Delhi rely heavily on the services and assistance of the Anganbadi workers from pre-natal care to accessing information about immunization. But even after being allotted such important duties the working conditions of the Anganbadi workers are very grave. They survive on a meagre incentive of Rs. 4000 per month and are not given any other benefit or honorarium, they have no fixed hours of working. Apart from looking after malnutritioned children, poor and expecting mothers they have to do birth and death registrations and recently they also have been assigned election duties for which they receive no additional remuneration. The workers have been exploited by the authorities since the very inception of the program and they have been from time to time raising their voice against this injustice.

Last year in July scores of Anganbadi workers from Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh had come to Delhi to protest against this exploitation and demand a raise in their salary with the Central Government. The workers demanded that 4 July be celebrated as ‘Demands day’ against the privatization of the Integrated Child Development Services in the name of ‘ICDS Mission’ and for the implementation of the recommendations of the 45th Indian Labour Conference recognizing the scheme workers as government employees, paying them minimum wages, providing them pension. However no progress has been made since on this front either by the Central Government or the State Government. The Anganbadi workers continue to be ignored and marginalized while they toil day in and day out to provide services of critical importance to the countries poor.

This year the Anganbadi workers have been on strike for the last 10 days to raise their demands in front of the incumbent Aam Aadmi Government, since AAP itself in its 70 point action plan for Delhi promised to regularize workers employed on Contractual Labour system. The workers demand that the government fulfill its electoral promise that it made to them without any delay. The working class of Delhi voted for the Aam Aadmi Party believing that they will deliver on the promises made to them however even after more than 100 days of having been in power no substantial announcements or plans have been declared to regularize the largest work force that works on contractual labour system. The demands of the striking Anganwadi workers are:

1. The workers should be regularized, given permanent appointments and an 8 hour work day. The description of their work should be clearly stated.
2. The workers should be given ID cards. They should be given a fixed salary instead of an incentive and the salary should be paid by the 10th of every month.
3. The workers should be given E.S.I and P.F cards alongwith all the other facilities given to a government employee.
4. The workers should get summer and winter holidays.
5. The workers should be provided with pension upon retirement.

On 16 July 2015 the Anganwadi workers organized a Chetavni Rally from Civil Lines to Delhi Vidhan Sabha to send across a message to the Delhi Government that they are in for the long haul and will not give up their fight until their demands are met. Bigul Mazdoor Dasta has been supporting the strike of the Anganbadi workers and standing in solidarity with workers in their fight for their rights.