(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 20, 2011
Anganwadi Employees Hold Huge Rally
AHMEDABAD witnessed a massive rally of women workers, the largest in the last two decades. Around 7000 anganwadi employees from 17 districts out of the total 27 districts in Gujarat marched on the streets of Ahmedabad on March 6, 2011 under the banner of Gujarat Anganwadi Karmachari Sangathan (GAKS) affiliated to the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH). The massive participation was significant because the rally was held at a short notice as more than thousand activists of the union returned to the state only a few days earlier after participating in the February 23 – 24 joint rallies of the central trade unions and the anganwadi employees’ federations in New Delhi. The anganwadi employees were enthused that the sustained struggles under the banner of the AIFAWH has compelled the government of India to announce an increase in their remuneration and determined to continue the struggle to force the BJP government in the state to concede their state level demands.
The procession culminated in a public meeting in the park near the statue of the well known trade union leader of the state, Indu Chacha. Niruben Ahir, convener of the state organising committee of the union presided over the meeting, which was addressed by Hemalata, general secretary of AIFAWH, Arun Mehta, joint secretary of Gujarat state committee of CITU and others.
Congratulating the anganwadi employees Hemalata said that the increase announced by the government of India was the result of the continuous and relentless struggles launched by the AIFAWH since the last several years. But, even after the hike, the wages remain below the minimum wages as demanded by the AIFAWH. At the same time, nothing has been done to implement the repeated assurances of the prime minister of providing a ‘parting gift’ to the anganwadi employees who were being forced to ‘retire’ at 58 – 60 years. Despite working for 30 – 35 years, anganwadi employees are not regularised. Similarly in Gujarat too, the state government has not yet implemented the announcement made by the chief minister Modi on payment of Rs 1.75 lakhs on retirement. Hemalata criticised the government for implementing the policies that benefited the rich while imposing unbearable burdens on the poor. She emphasised the need to strengthen the organisation, continue the struggle to achieve the long pending demands as well as to join the mainstream movements against such policies of the government.
Niruben Ahir strongly criticised the BJP government in Gujarat for attacking the democratic rights of the workers to join the unions of their choice and participate in struggles. She introduced a resolution demanding the state government to implement retirement benefits, increase the remuneration from the state government, and fulfil other demands. The resolution which was passed amidst thunderous applause called upon the anganwadi employees in the state to unite and intensify the struggle to put pressure on the state government.
Arun Mehta who is also the state co coordinator of the GAKS said that while the government had no dearth of financial resources to pay huge allowances and other benefits to MLAs and MPs, it pleaded lack of money to pay even minimum wages to anganwadi employees who were serving the children, the country’s future. Nasimben Makrani, joint convenor of the GAKS proposed the vote of thanks.