Workers' protest echoes in legislature

Workers' protest echoes in legislature

 The issue of anganwadi workers’ protest was raised in both the Houses of the state legislature on Tuesday and Opposition parties staged dharnas demanding that the government be sympathetic and increae their honorarium.

In the Assembly, BJP members said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, instead of blaming the Centre, should attend to the problems of anganwadi workers. This led to a heated exchange between Siddaramaiah and BJP members. Speaker K B Koliwad had no choice but to adjourn the House for some time.

Earlier, raising the issue JD(S) floor leader H D Kumaraswamy said there are 1.25 lakh anganwadi workers in the state. The government has failed to pay them the prescribed minimum wages despite the demand for it for the last 25 years. “If their demand for the revised wages is implemented, the government would have to spend another Rs 612 crore. It is not a big challenge for government as the budget outlay is Rs 1.86 lakh crore,” he added.

He said the agitating women on Sheshadri Road do not have basic facilities like water and toilets. Even pregnant women are staging the protest, he said. Opposition leader Jagadish Shettar said anganwadi workers are on duty for not less than six hours in a day. The honorarium paid to them is much less compared to the payment made in the neighbouring states. Their payment should be increased to Rs 10,000, he demanded.

At present, they are paid Rs 7,000, with the state contribution of Rs 5,200 and the rest by the Centre. In the budget for the next year, it would go by Rs 1,000, he said.  Siddaramaiah vehemently argued that the Centre should increase its contribution. It should be in the ratio of 60:40 between the state and the centre, he added.

Opposition leader in Legislative Council K S Eshwarappa accused the government of being heartless for turning a blind eye to the anganwadi workers’ woes. JD(S) leader Basavaraj Horatti said the government should tender an apology for treating the protesters inhumanly. About 12,000 women are sleeping on the street. The government has remained insensitive and neglected them, he charged.

Home Minister G Parameshwara said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has convened a meeting of representatives of protesting anganwadi workers on April 19.

Later, the members of Opposition parties withdraw their dharnas in both the Houses.
Meanwhile, the chief minister’s office (CMO) announced that Siddaramaiah held talks with the representatives of the protesters. “He has assured them that a meeting would be held on April 19 to discuss their demands. As the model code of conduct for Assembly byelections is in place, it is not possible to meet the demands. The protesters have agreed to withdraw their protest.”

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