Anganwadi workers in Andhra return to work after 42-day strike

Vijayawada, Jan 23 (IANS) Around one lakh Anganwadi workers in Andhra Pradesh called off their 42-day strike and resumed duties on Tuesday following an agreement with the state government over their demands.

The Anganwadi workers had been on strike from December 12 demanding better pay and working conditions, and had continued their protest despite the government invoking the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).

The government has agreed to address 10 of the 11 crucial demands laid out by the Anganwadi workers.

The state government said that the Anganwadi union leaders showed unity and rejected false incitement by opposition parties to end the strike peacefully

Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, Advisor to the government, alleged that the opposition parties have been trying to incite Anganwadis and spread false propaganda throughout the duration of the strike.

“The government has consistently demonstrated empathy and a commitment that has been extended beyond merely meeting demands, as it actively maintained communication with the Anganwadis throughout the course of the strike. This cooperative stance was reciprocated by Anganwadis who, in due course, acknowledged the attempts made by the opposition parties to politicize the strike and understood the government’s perspective,” he said in a statement.

“Opposition leader and TDP Chief Chandrababu Naidu, his son Lokesh, and JSP Chief Pawan Kalyan have regularly made comments aimed at inflaming tensions. The Anganwadis, in a commendable display of wisdom, have chosen to follow the path of prudence by calling off the strike, thereby thwarting divisive attempts,” said Education Minister Botcha Satyanarayana.

As per the agreement, the implementation of salary increments is scheduled for July next year. Life insurance coverage, including a 2-lakh accident insurance policy, will be extended to Anganwadi workers and helpers starting this year. The age limit for the appointment of Anganwadi assistants has been increased from 45 years to 50 years.

Anganwadi workers will be eligible for Travel Allowance (TA) and Dearness Allowance (DA) on a monthly and bi-monthly basis, respectively.

The upper age limit for the continued service of Anganwadi workers and helpers has been set at 62 years.

The government has approved end-of-service benefits, providing Rs 1 lakh to Anganwadi workers and Rs 40,000 to helpers who complete 62 years of age in the state.

The government has sanctioned Rs 66.54 crore fund for Anganwadi centers located in rented buildings. An allocation of Rs 7.81 crore has been sanctioned for 55,607 centers to address sanitation requirements.

An allocation of Rs 6.36 crore has been released for 21,206 Anganwadi Centers at a rate of Rs 3,000 per center to cover maintenance expenses, including painting walls and minor repairs.



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