CHENNAI, Mar 28: Anganwadi workers in the neighbouring territory of Puducherry receive a pension of Rs. 7,500 per month whereas those in Tamil Nadu get Rs. 1,500 per month.
Following a protest on March 26, the anganwadi workers and helpers will protest yet again on April 5 for fulfilment of their demands: raise in pension, recognition as government workers, increase in salaries, and above all, “for workers’ rights and dignity of labour”.
Several protesters are the first generation of workers who joined as ‘scheme workers’ under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme in the 1980s. Most of them have served for nearly 35 years. As per the pension pay-out standards, a worker must receive 50 per cent of the last drawn salary as pension. A retired anganwadi worker receives Rs. 1,500 per month as against Rs. 5,000, which is 50 per cent of their Rs. 10,000 per month salary at the time of retirement.
Although their salaries are comparably higher than those in Bihar, the pension given to them is one of the lowest in the country, said R Karumalayan, General Secretary, Tamil Nadu state committee, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). Anganwadi workers in the neighbouring territory of Puducherry receive a pension of Rs. 7,500 per month.
Since ICDS is a centrally-funded scheme, the government recognises anganwadi workers and helpers as scheme workers and not as government employees. Most of these workers are underpaid and excluded from the revision of pay under the seventh pay commission, said M Anbarasu, General Secretary, Tamil Nadu Government Employees Association (TNGEA). In Tamil Nadu, over the last four decades, their salaries have increased by Rs. 1,000 per decade.
The government officials compare the salaries of anganwadi workers in Tamil Nadu with those of underdeveloped states but these workers anywhere need social security after retirement as they hardly have any savings, said Karumalayan.
A majority of the protesters were widows and single mothers – several of whom were destitute.