6 February 2014, New Delhi: The New Trade Union Initiative congratulates the over 2 lakh members of the Maharashtra Rajya Anganwadi Kruti Samiti for their remarkable victorious struggle of a winning a retirement benefit of Rs.1 lakh and Rs.75,000 to be paid to Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) and Anganwadi Helpers (AWHs) respectively at the end of their service. The Government of Maharashtra made this announcement at the end of cabinet meeting yesterday. This was one of the major demands by the women workers working in Anganwadis who, following this announcement, called off their 31 day long strike and resumed work today. This is perhaps the longest and largest strike of women workers in our country.
The government has also promised that their second major demand of an increase in their honorarium from the existing Rs. 4050 and Rs. 2000 to AWWs and AWHs respectively will be taken up in the next 15 days. Both these decisions are a major victory for Maharashtra’s Anganwadi workers.
The 31 day long strike, which began on 6 January 2014 saw AWWs and AWHs across the state holding coordinated state – wide demonstrations at Zilla Parishad and taluka offices in districts along with a sit-in demonstration at Azad Maidan as well as outside the state secretariat in Mumbai.
Maharashtra’s Anganwadi workers have been struggling for retirement benefits for over a decade. This victory is a tribute to their tenacity and their patience in agitating their demands.
This victory is an also an important landmark in the struggle of recognition of ‘honorary’ workers whose retirement, the right of every worker, has been ensured in some measure.
Speaking at the massive rally at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, NTUI Vice President and the President of our affiliate the Maharashtra Rajya Anganwadi Karmachari Sangh said that ‘this victory was possible because of the united struggle of all the trade unions in the joint-action committee and the determination of the militant membership who did not once flinch in taking the meaning of an “indefinite strike” forward in both letter and spirit’.
NTUI salutes the leaders of all the trade unions and their members in the joint-action committee, Maharashtra Rajya Anganwadi Kruti Samiti for their determination and sustained struggle. Your unity and determination will be a leading inspiration for all the women workers who are fighting for recognition as ‘workers’ across the country.
With this the NTUI renews the call of its Third General Assembly ‘to build a nation-wide struggle against poverty wages of contract, casual, temporary and ‘honorarium’ workers, trainees and apprentices and all other forms of irregular workers; and … demands a Commission on Wages that advances the principal of the living wage and runs concurrently with the 7th Pay Commission and provides parity with appropriate levels of government employees in both wages and service conditions’. Furthermore, now that the 7th Pay Commission has been constituted, the NTUI calls upon it to examine and address the injustice of not just those employed by government but also those who work for government.