Sunday 19 May 2019

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Sardinha ends Anganwadi fast, without concrete solution

 

While anganwadi workers from all over the country are agitating over regularisation in government service, Goa's women workers are expected to get a little better living, but only after resorting to a path of fast unto death.

Ending the eight-day long hunger strike, chief minister Francisco Sardinha has assured them to consider their demands 'sympathetically' and come out with a viable solution by the month end.

Over 2000 anganwadi workers have been on a warpath in Goa for over ten years now, resorting to all sorts of democratic protests, demanding minimum wages and regularisation in the government service with a pay scale.

The women, recruited by the local social welfare department under the central Integrated Child Development Scheme since 1978, have been taking care of the rural children here in around 1200 centres spread throughout the state.

While converting former balwadis into anganwadi centres, the central scheme also allowed to open more centres all over the country and recruited the new staff as honorary workers. But the earlier balwadi staff, which was absorbed into these centres, was regularised as the anganwadi sevikas.

Protesting against the discrimination, the Goa Rajya Anganwadi Karmchari Sanghatana has been demanding to regularise them, on par with their colleagues, for the most valuable work of child care they have been doing in the countryside.

But the states have done very little, under the pretext that it is a central scheme. In the last 22 years in Goa, they have only been rewarded with a meagre hike from Rs 275 to Rs 763 in their monthly remuneration, Rs 200 out of which comes from the centre.

Though anganwadi workers have been paid much lower than this in many states, Tripura and Mizoram have regularised them while states like Tamil Nadu are in the process of arriving at a much better daily wage deal. Even Maharashtra has recently hiked their remuneration, points out Netra Hoble, the Sanghatana president.

Shripad Naik, the BJP MP from Goa, has in fact raised the issue in the ongoing Parliament session, demanding that their payment be hiked to Rs 2000. Nobody however talks of regularising them in service, ending the discrimination.

The BJP, the constituent partner of the Sardinha government, has however suggested here that they be brought on par with the non-muster roll employees, which comes to around Rs 56 a day with an additional annual burden of Rs two crore.

A similar suggestion was also made by the former Congress government, which collapsed here within four months. By month end, the coalition government as well as the opposition Congress is also planning a solution on similar lines, ruling out regularisation in service.






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