The Delhi state Aanganwadi workers and helpers Union launched an effective gherao at the city govt’s women and child development Department at Kashmere gate on July 22nd , raising slogans against the Aam Admi party dispensation. Their plight is symbolic of that of women workers all over the country, mercilessly entrapped by the contract system, denied stipulated or fair wages, housing, medical facilities or daily work. The efforts of this Union in confronting anti-people labour policies and cornering the administration at grass roots level is creditable. With consistency they have exposed how the AAP has undertaken policies victimising the working class., being involved in sustained tussles.
The lives of 884 Anganwadi workers in Delhi turned into jeopardy after they were abruptly terminated for staging over a month-long strike demanding a raise in honorarium and respectable working hours.
These workers comprising several single mothers were issued termination notice on March 14 against their 39-day demonstration.
They have claimed that despite serving the public with utmost devotion during the pandemic-induced-lockdown they have not received their salary since January and are somehow running their households by borrowing money.
Anita, who received her termination notice on March 16, is a single mother. She has been running from pillar to post looking for work to ensure that her children’s studies are not affected.
“I’ve been borrowing money from relatives, working as a part-time house help and with great difficulty managing their school and tuition fees. When I joined Anganwadi in 2007, my salary was ₹750. I’ve worked extensively during the COVID lockdown, provided door-to-door ration, conducted vaccine campaigns but our salaries have been on hold since January, 2022. We did not even receive masks, sanitisers or any incentive in that regard from our department,” Anita said, adding, “We tried complaining but our supervisor threatened us saying we would be terminated.”
She said that the Delhi Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union provided help by supplying them with basic needs but even their salaries have been pending since January.
Savita, also a single mother, received her termination notice the same day as Anita, said, “I’m a single mother and the sole earner of the family. I have a daughter who is doing her graduation. She has been trying to help me by giving tuition classes. I lived in a rented house but had to shift to a cheaper place after my termination. I have been borrowing money from my brother to run the household.” Earlier, she earned ₹9,741 a month.
“Many of the terminated workers have been receiving text messages showing their salaries have been credited, but the same is not reflecting in their bank accounts,” she alleged.
“The Anganwadi workers are being bombarded with text messages, whereas, our bank accounts are empty. A delegation of five terminated workers tried visiting the women and child department but the secretary refused to meet us. How are we supposed to register our complaints? Many of us even visited the bank branches to confirm about the same, but even the bank managers said that no money got credited into our accounts,” another Anganwadi worker, Poonam said.
A delegation met Lieutenant Governor V. K. Saxena on July 16 and submitted a memorandum regarding the same to him.
“The Lieutenant Governor had said he will look into their demands and soon intervene in the matter,” they said.
In view sheer inaction, the Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union (DSAWHU) on Thursday gathered outside the office of the city government’s Women and Child Development Department at Kashmere Gate vociferously raising slogans against the AAP-led Delhi government over the reinstatement of the terminated workers.
DSAWHU has claimed that 884 Anganwadi workers have been issued termination notices and 11,942 given show-cause notices by the Delhi government for participating in over a month-long strike earlier.
Demands were placed for re-instating all the terminated workers, stopping confiscation of items of the aganwadi workers and helpers like telephones ,till the issue was resolved, fulfiiling all promises laid down in June and implementing demands of women workers.
Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist who has travelled around India and reported mass programmes