Bhubaneswar. Blocking nearly 60,000 anganwadi centers across Odisha, anganwadi workers are on an indefinite strike on Tuesday demanding the status of government employees and a hike in their wages.
Anganwadi workers from different parts of the state demonstrated in Bhubaneswar on Monday and staged a sit-in near the state assembly building ahead of the winter session of the assembly. Anganwadi workers are demanding that they should be given the status of government employees and monthly honorarium of Rs 18,000 to Anganwadi workers and Rs 9,000 to helpers.
Also, our demand of Rs 5,000 pension should be met,” said Sumitra Mohapatra, president of All Odisha Anganwadi Women Workers. He said that if our demands are not met then our strike will not end. Their demand also includes compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of an Anganwadi worker who dies during service.
Jhunupama Satpathy, secretary of the All Odisha Anganwadi Women Workers’ Association, said, “Today is the second day. After a massive demonstration of 50,000 women Anganwadi workers on Monday, we are sitting on an indefinite strike from today. Today around 500 women sat on dharna. In all 314 blocks, our comrades are also agitating near the block offices.
Claiming that flagship programs of the state government like Mamta Yojana and Harishchandra Yojana were successful because of the Anganwadi workers, he said their demands remained unfulfilled. Mohapatra said that anganwadi workers get Rs 7,500 a month even after working 24 hours a day.
Anjali Patel, organizing secretary of All India Anganwadi Federation, said, “We have written about 100 letters to the state government in support of our demands, but the government did not respond to those letters. On the contrary, the government insulted us and put more burden on us. We finally went on strike after giving 15 days’ notice to the government.
Women and Child Development Minister Basanti Hembram said that the state government sympathizes with the Anganwadi workers. The minister further said that the Anganwadi workers get remuneration on the basis of sharing of both the Center and the State. The Odisha government will take a decision regarding the present demands soon.