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Despite opposition, Maharashtra government refuses to revoke strike ban on anganwadi workers

According to the child development minister, 125 infants died during a 26-day strike last year

mumbai Updated: Mar 22, 2018 01:09 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
Workers demanded a hike in their honorarium and struck work last year.

A day after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray directed his party legislators to oppose the state government’s ban to restrain anganwadi workers from striking work, the proceedings of the state legislature were disrupted on the issue on Wednesday. The state government has invoked the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) to consider anganwadi services as essential.

The Shiv Sena along with opposition legislators demanded revoking the decision. However, women and child development minister Pankaja Munde refused to budge, following which legislators disrupted the proceedings of both houses. Last year, anganwadi workers had gone on a 26-day strike demanding a hike in their honorarium. The workers ran the Centre’s Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) — which battles malnutrition among young children and pregnant and lactating women. The state has around 2 lakh such workers working at 97,000 anganwadis. They cater to around 56 lakh children below the age of six.

In the state assembly, the issue was raised by Shiv Sena legislator Vijay Auti, saying that the government has declared to increase honorarium of anganwadi workers but the government resolution (GR) for implementing the decision has not been issued. “It is unfair to invoke MESMA on anganwadi workers as the state appoints destitutes, poor and widows for the job,” Auti said opposing the move.

The state assembly was adjourned eight times.

The child development minister said, “We have increased their honorarium to Rs6,500 from Rs4,000 per month. The government is ready to discuss other issues in detail but it is not possible to revoke the decision.”

“Around 125 infants died last year when anganwadi workers had gone on strike. If they again resort to strike then who is going to be held responsible for more deaths,” she said. However, the government clarified that workers can carry out protests.

Dhananjay Munde, leader of opposition in the upper house, slammed the government for the March 15 order.

First Published: Mar 22, 2018 01:09 IST