The ‘mahapadav’ of more than 50000 ‘scheme workers’ , most of them women, including anganwadi workers and helpers, ASHAs, mid day meal workers, Child Labour Project teachers, Krishak Sathis, para teachers, Sakti Sahayikas, Yashodas/ Mamathas, IKP Animators, Grameen Rojgar Sevaks, etc has started at Jantar Mantar at 11.00 AM on 26th November 2012.
These 50000 workers are here to highlight the common demands of the around 1 crore ‘scheme workers’ employed in different schemes/ programmes of the government of India – recognition as workers, minimum wages, social security benefits and regularisation, raising the slogan – ‘No to honorarium or Incentive; we demand Minimum Wages and Social Security Benefits’
These workers have come from all over the country including from far off states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, West Bengal, and also from Jammu and Kashmir, in addition to all the ‘Hindi speaking’ states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Delhi with the largest contingents coming from Haryana and Punjab.
Around 10000 ‘scheme workers’ from far off places who have reached the national capital earlier and were camping at Ramlila Maidan marched in an attractive and disciplined procession to Jantar Mantar while all the others reached Jantar Mantar directly.
Hemalata, secretary, CITU welcomed this unprecedented mobilisation of ‘scheme workers’ being organised by Centre of Indian Trade Unions. Tapan Sen, MP and general secretary of CITU inaugurated the ‘mahapadav’ while AK Padmanabhan, presided. National office bearers of CITU, Neelima Maitra and AR Sindhu, president and general secretary of All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers and state level leaders of ASHAs, mid day meal workers were on the dais.
Addressing the gathering AK Padmanabhan called upon all the scheme workers to unitedly fight against the neoliberal policies of the government which led to increasing exploitation of all workers. He called upon them to join with all the other sections of the workers to intensify the struggle against these policies.
Inaugurating the ‘mahapadav’, Tapan Sen said the government of India was committing a fraud upon the people through its inhuman exploitation of the workers who were providing the most important services related to health, education, food and nutrition for the people, particularly for the poor women and children. The workers who contributed to the human development of the country were forced to starve and suffer because of this atrocious attitude of the government which called them ‘social workers’, ‘activists’, ‘friends’, ‘guests’ etc just to deny them the status of workers.
Tapan Sen demanded that these services should be provided as rights and entitlements to all the citizens and not through ‘schemes’ and ‘programmes’ which can be withdrawn any time as per the whims and fancies of the government of the day and that all the workers in different government schemes should be recognised as workers with all the attendant benefits including minimum wages and social security benefits.
A team of 11 CITU leaders including Hemalata, Varalakshmi, national secretaries, Mercy Kutti Amma, vice president of CITU, Surender Malik, Pramod Pradhan, Prem Nath Rai, general secretaries of the state committees of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively, Uma Maheswara Rao, Tapan Sharma, Gajendra Jha and Radha Raman Sarangi, office bearers of the Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chattisgarh and Odisha state committees of CITU and Deven Patel, leader of the state government employees and anganwadi employees in Chattisgarh started a fast for two days, during the duration of the ‘mahapadav’ in solidarity with the demands of the ‘scheme workers’.
AR Sindhu, general secretary of AIFAWH said that the exploitation of the ‘scheme workers’ was the biggest scam in the country. Ranjana Nirula, treasurer of CITU and convenor of the all India coordination committee of ASHAS criticised the government for exploiting the services of lakhs of women workers on the name of ‘social work’. Neelima Maitra, president of AIFAWH spoke on the need of all scheme workers to come together. (Courtsey: Ganashakti)