GUWAHATI: Close to 2,000 Anganwadi workers and helpers from Kamrup (Metro) will join the nationwide strike on August 9 to demand minimum wages from the government.
Their major demands include increase in their honorarium and a one-time financial assistance at the time of retirement as part of their pension benefit. The Anganwadi workers currently receive Rs 4,000 per month while the helpers who assist the workers get Rs 2,000.
“This amount is extremely low and it gets difficult for the workers to manage their families and households with this amount,” said President of Assam State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Association (ASAWHA), Tapan Sarma.
There are 700 Anganwadi centres in Kamrup (Metro) district out of a total of 62,153 in the state. They were started in 1975 by the central government with a view to combat malnutrition in children and to provide care for pregnant women. They provide mother and childcare and are run under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme.
He added that they have had several rounds of talks with the government but to no avail. He further claimed that other casual labourers and workers across Assam too do not receive minimum wages.
Further, ASAWHA members said that the previous governments had promised a minimum wage of Rs 350 per day for the tea garden workers, which too has not been fulfilled yet.
The workers say that they are not provided with any pension provisions or health benefits. They have asked the state government to pay the workers Rs 2 lakhs and helpers Rs 1.5 lakhs as one-time payment in lieu of their pension.
Anganwadi workers said that a majority of Anganwadi centres in Kamrup (Metro) and other districts lack basic infrastructural facilities.
“Almost 80 per cent of Anganwadi centres are in a deplorable condition without proper buildings and furniture. Some are even forced to operate under trees or other community spaces,” informed Sarma.
Workers also alleged that sub-standard materials are supplied to the centres. They say that very few centres are supplied with medical kits which contain essential items like folic acid tablets and iron tablets for pregnant women and Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) for children.
The workers have also demanded proper management of Anganwadi centres including pucca building, regular supply of medical kits and other materials including furniture.
In this regard, the government has made a plan for renovation of centres and will also construct 10,000 new Anganwadi centres.
These workers have also alleged that the authorities engage them in other external government duties for which they are not paid additional money.
They said that they did not mind working more but they have made a case for extra wages in such situations.