Demanding that the Punjab government withdraw its decision to operate the midday meal scheme on a contract basis, about 500 cooks protested outside the Sangrur deputy commissioner's office at the mini-secretariat here on Sunday.
Under the banner of Punjab Democratic Midday Meal Cooks' Front, the agitators raised slogans against the state government and handed over a memorandum of their demands to the DC.
Mandeep Kaur Mankamajra, district president of the union, said about 4,500 cooks were at risk of losing their jobs if the government went ahead with its decision. "What will we do and how will we feed our families," Mankamajra said. "We will continue to protest unless the government rolls back its plan."
She said that despite assurances from the government that it would not outsource the midday meal scheme to contractors, this is what was set to happen.
The cooks also demanded a hike in salaries as per the pay norms for skilled workers, regularisation of their jobs, life insurance of minimum Rs 2 lakh, provide inflation allowance, proper facilities in the kitchen, reinstate suspended cooks and give medical allowance in case of accidents during working hours.
Midday meal cooks hold dharna; submit memorandum to tehsildar
Fatehgarh Sahib: Democratic Midday Meal Cooks' Front on Sunday protested in front of the Fatehgarh Sahib deputy commissioner's office and later submitted a memorandum to the tehsildar.
Addressing the dharna, the front's state president, Harjinder Kaur, criticised the Punjab government's move to outsource the preparation of midday meals in schools run by municipal corporations, to contractors.
Kaur said the state government should immediate retract its decision. "Our union will not allow the government to implement the decision," she added.
She said the cooks got only Rs 1,200 as monthly salary and were denied dearness allowance and insurance. They were not even governed by labour laws. The front's district president Mamta Sharma also addressed the dharna.