People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 20

May 20, 2012



Anganwadi, ASHA, Midday Meal Workers Hold Dharna


THE Uttar Pradesh state committees of the Anganwadi Karmachari Union, ASHA Karmachari Union and Midday Meal Karmachari Union organised a joint, day long dharna at Lucknow, the state capital, on May 11, 2012. It was on the demands of these employees who are being denied their due rights on the pretext that they are ‘social workers,’ ‘activists,’ ‘self help group members’ etc. More than 4,000 Anganwadi employees, ASHA workers and midday meal workers from different districts in the state participated in the dharna to press their demands. Separate memoranda were later submitted to the concerned government officers.


Despite repeated representations by the Anganwadi Karmachari Union, affiliated to the CITU, the Uttar Pradesh state government did not pay the arrears of the enhanced remuneration for Anganwadi employees, which were due from April 1, 2011. Anganwadi employees in the state were getting only Rs 1500 and Rs 750, more than one year after their wages were doubled by the government of India.


The union decided to intensify the struggle and started the preparations immediately after the elections to the state assembly. A meeting of the extended state committee was held in Varanasi, where it was decided to organise a massive day long dharna in front of the state assembly on May 11, 2012. Four regional meetings were organised in Kanpur, Meerut, Moradabad and Varanasi in which union representatives from 18 districts participated and planned the campaign with the objective to reach as many Anganwadi employees in the state as possible. As many as 50 sector level and 75 block level meetings were organised. Thousands of leaflets were distributed.


The campaign evoked good response from the Anganwadi employees who reached Lucknow from 24 districts to participate in the dharna; many of them were even from some districts where the union had had no contact earlier. In addition to the payment of arrears, the Anganwadi employees also raised several other demands like regular payment of rent to the Anganwadi centres, 90 per cent reservation in the posts of supervisors, appointment of eligible helpers as workers, proper infrastructure facilities in Anganwadi centres including potable drinking water, toilets,  teaching material, medical kits and good quality supplementary nutrition.


A five member delegation met the special secretary for Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and held a detailed discussion. As the meeting was going on, the cabinet met and decided to release the arrears for six months as the first instalment and pay the remaining at the earliest. Enthused by their achievement, the Anganwadi employees decided to further strengthen the union and continue fighting for the other demands. The union called upon them to hold massive local level demonstrations on the All-India Demands Day on July 10.


The state committee of Anganwadi Karmachari Union, Uttar Pradesh, expressed their gratitude to all the mass organisations including the DYFI, SFI and BGVS, in addition to the state committee of the CITU, that have extended their support for the successful organisation of the dharna.


From the dharna site, the ASHA Karmachari Union raised the demands of fixed and guaranteed monthly remuneration instead of ‘incentive,’ regular payment, rest rooms at hospitals and community health centres, 50 per cent reservation in the appointments of ANMs, medical kits with the necessary medicines in enough quantities, constitution of complaint cells in the NRHM offices, strengthening of primary health centres (PHCs) and community health centres (CHCs) and stop to privatisation of health services. The union also demanded electricity to the hospitals, construction of pucca roads and provision of public transport to the rural and interior areas of Uttar Pradesh. The ASHA workers from 18 districts participated in the dharna. A separate memorandum was submitted to the government on the occasion.


Hundreds of midday meal workers from six districts also joined the dharna to raise their demands of regularisation, stopping of the system of yearly renewal of appointment, regular payment through bank accounts, medical aid in case of burns and other injuries at work place and stop to privatisation of the midday meal programme.


A five member delegation met the director of Basic Education and submitted a memorandum. The union decided to intensify the struggle by, among other things, organising massive dharnas at the district level and hunger strike in June if the demands are not met.


Veena Gupta, general secretary of Anganwadi Karmachari Union and ASHA Karmachari Union, and vice president of Uttar Pradesh state committee of CITU, along with several other office bearers of the state committee of CITU and the leaders of all the unions participating in the dharna, addressed the gathering and called upon the workers to strengthen their respective organisations and continue their struggle till their demands are met.