Around 50,000 ‘scheme workers’ , mainly women, from more than 25 States will gather at Jantar Mantar here on Monday for a two-day sit-in or ‘mahapadav’.

Organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the ‘mahapadav’ will submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister, demanding recognition as workers, minimum wages of at least Rs 10,000 a month as well as social security benefits, such as pension, provident fund etc.

“Lakhs of workers employed in these ‘schemes’ and ‘programmes’ are not recognised as workers and are called ‘social workers’, ‘activists’, and even given fancy and innovative names like ‘friends’, ‘guests’, ‘yashodas’, ‘mamathas’ etc to hide their exploitation,” said A.K Padmanabhan, President, CITU.

The workers, most of them women, are part of the estimated one crore workforce that is implementing flagship schemes across the country.

Anganwadi workers

At present, there are more than 27 lakh Anganwadi workers and helpers in the Integrated Child Development Services, over 27 lakh workers employed in the Mid Day Meal programme, around 8.5 lakh women working as ASHAs under the National Rural Health Mission, lakhs of teachers in the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and under the Agricultural Technology Management Agency scheme among others.

The contribution of these women workers has led to the improvement in several human development indicators such as infant mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio, school enrolment, immunisation etc, Padmanbhan said in a statement.

“The full potential of their services could not be realised as the Government has not been allocating adequate financial resources for these schemes. Instead, it is resorting to privatisation in the name of public-private partnership,” he added.

aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 24, 2012)
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