Published: 25th July 2022
The plight of over 800 Anganwadi workers in Delhi who were terminated for going on a strike
Anita, who received her termination notice on March 16, is a single mother. She has been running from pillar to post looking for work to ensure that her children's studies are not affected
The Government of Delhi's move to terminate more than 800 Anganwadi workers for putting up a strike to seek a raise in their honorarium is drawing the ire of many, including Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. On Monday, July 25, Priyanka Gandhi termed this termination as "unjust" and demanded that the Anganwadi workers should be reinstated immediately.
As many as 884 Anganwadi workers were terminated abruptly for demanding a raise in their honorarium and respectable working hours during a month-long strike. These workers, including single mothers, were issued a notice on March 14 against their 39-day demonstration, as per a report in PTI.
The Anganwadi workers claimed that despite rising to the occasion and serving even during the lockdowns induced by the pandemic, they are yet to receive their salary since January.
Anita, who received her termination notice on March 16, is a single mother. She has been running from pillar to post looking for work to ensure that her children's studies are not affected.
“I’ve been borrowing money from relatives, working as a part-time house help and somehow managing their school and tuition fees. When I joined Anganwadi in 2007, my salary was ₹750. I’ve worked extensively during the COVID lockdown, provided door-to-door ration, and conducted vaccine campaigns but our salaries have been on hold since January 2022. We did not even receive masks, sanitisers or any incentive in that regard from our department,” Anita said, adding, “We tried complaining but our supervisor threatened us saying we would be terminated.”
She said that the Delhi Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union tried helping by providing them with basic needs but even their salaries have been pending since January.
Savita, also a single mother, received her termination notice the same day as Anita, said, “I’m a single mother and the sole earner of the family. I have a daughter who is doing her graduation. She has been trying to help me by giving tuition classes. I lived in a rented house but had to shift to a cheaper place after my termination. I have been borrowing money from my brother to run the household.” Earlier, she earned ₹9,741 a month.
“Many of the terminated workers have been receiving text messages showing their salaries have been credited, but the same is not reflecting in their bank accounts,” she alleged.
“The Anganwadi workers are being scammed with text messages, whereas, our bank accounts are empty. A delegation of five terminated workers tried visiting the women and child department but the secretary refused to meet us. How are we supposed to register our complaints? Many of us even visited the bank branches to confirm about the same, but even the bank managers said that no money got credited into our accounts,” another Anganwadi worker, Poonam said.
A delegation met Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena on July 16 and submitted a memorandum regarding the same to him.
“The Lieutenant Governor had said he will look into their demands and soon intervene in the matter,” they said.
In view of no action, the Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union (DSAWHU) on Thursday, July 21, gathered outside the office of the city government’s Women and Child Development Department at Kashmere Gate and raised slogans against the AAP-led Delhi government over the reinstatement of the terminated workers.
DSAWHU has claimed that 884 Anganwadi workers have been issued termination notices and 11,942 given show-cause notices by the Delhi government for participating in over a month-long strike earlier.
Attacking the AAP-led Delhi government, Gandhi said it had increased the honorarium of the MLAs a few days ago.
"But, taking an unjust step, the government sacked more than 800 Anganwadi workers demanding a respectable honorarium. Asking for a good honorarium for hard work is not a crime," the Congress general secretary said in a tweet.
These Anganwadi workers should be immediately reinstated, Gandhi demanded.