Midday-meal cooks protested here on Sunday, demanding higher wages and other facilities from the unoin government.
They said they feared that the state government might handover their work to the contracotrs. Under the banner of the democratic midday meal cook front union of Punjab, the chefs working in the state's government schools protested outside the office of the deputy commissioner here.
They had gathered from many districts. The union government paid the cooks only Rs. 750 a month each, said a leader of the chef union, adding that Punjab's contribution took their salaries to only 1,200 a month each for six to seven hours of work every day that involved cooking and washing utensils. The payment is for only 10 months a year.
The state government planned to handover the midday-meals contract to social organisations, which might lead to corruption, said a protester, claiming that many cases of corruption had surfaced in cities where contracotors had been given the work. “The Punjab government might assign the midday meal work to contractors, as it had happened in Uttar Pradesh," said Harjinder Kaur Lopo, president of the chef union.
The union leaders asked for pay increase, insurance payment of Rs. 2 lakh each for the workers in case of any accident in the kitchen; the bringing of the their services under the minimum wages rule, and full pay even during holidays. They also demaned dearness allowance and other perks.