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'How Will We Survive?': Anganwadi Workers Terminated After Protest

According to a petition filed by the anganwadi union, 150 termination orders were issued without an inquiry.

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Edited By :Tejas Harad

Single-mother Sneha (name changed), who spent 10 years as an anganwadi worker, was left stunned when she received a termination notice from the Delhi government's Department of Women and Child Development (WCD) on 14 March.

Speaking to The Quint, the 28-year-old said: "I am a single mother. I will not be able to feed my children and pay rent if I cannot work and earn."

Sneha was not the only one to have received the notice.

Her mother and sister were among the 150 anganwadi workers who received identical termination notices, after they hit the streets demanding better wages.

"...the ICDS services in Delhi have been severely affected due to prolonged and illegal strike led by some anganwadi workers (AWWs) and anganwadi helpers (AWHs), who have obstructed the ICDS Scheme which is essentially required for children (including severely malnourished), pregnant and lactating women in the community."

While the protest has been going on in the capital since 31 January, it was called off on 9 March. While at least 3,000 workers received show-cause notice during the protest, they have now started receiving termination notices.

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'I Have No Idea What To Do Next,' Say Workers and Helpers

Sneha said that she had no idea what to do or where to go next, as she was completely dependent on her salary for sustenance.

"My mother, who was also a single parent, worked as an anganwadi worker to support our family. I did the same too. But now I have no idea where to go next. We had decided to rejoin and hence, we went back on 10 March. But then suddenly, we received these letters on WhatsApp yesterday."
Sneha to The Quint

Priya (name changed), a 50-year-old anganwadi helper, too received a termination notice on 14 March. She has two children who are in college and her husband, who quit his job over prolonged illness.

"We were protesting for better pay. They finally decided to increase it but now they are terminating us so what was the point?"
"I have been working as a helper for over nine years. I used to work very hard, even my supervisor knows that… but that does not matter. None of us should be terminated in such a way. Many of us are sole earners and single mothers."
An anganwadi helper
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What Was Their Demand?

According to the Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union (DSAWHU), at least 18,000 workers protested demanding better wages, across the country.

While anganwadi workers in Delhi used to earn Rs 9,678, helpers were paid Rs 4,839 per month. On 24 February, the Delhi government had said that they would increase workers’ honorarium to Rs 11,220 and helpers to Rs 5,610.

The government also promised that they would increase conveyance and communication allowance to Rs 1,500.

However, soon after this, the protesting workers and helpers started receiving show-cause notice, the anganwadi workers told The Quint.

Anganwadi Union Moves High Court

The union moved the Delhi High Court challenging the termination. They have sought immediate reinstatement with wages and a continuity of their services.

"The Anganwadi workers are returning to work after the imposition of ESMA by the Lieutenant Governor, but at the behest of the Delhi government, the Women and Child Development Department has been continuously terminating them in several illegal ways. The Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union is registering a case in the High Court against the Delhi Government and the Department of Women and Child Development to revoke these illegal terminations."

In the petition, the union stated that their strike was called off after the government prohibited it. While the workers and helpers went back to work, they were also made to sign apology letters and give an assurance that they would not protest further.

(With inputs from The Indian Express.)

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Topics:  Health   Delhi Government   Protests 

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