Karnataka childcare workers call off stir over wage hike

Bengaluru: About 10,000 childcare workers (Anganwadis) and their helpers in Karnataka called off their four-day agitation on Thursday after Chief Minister Siddaramaiah assured them of a wage hike soon.

“We have called off our agitation on the Chief Minister’s assurance that his government will increase our wages,” Karnataka State Anganwadi Workers’ Association President S. Varalakshmi told reporters here.

The women workers from across the state have been on a sit-in protest for wage hike at the Freedom Park in the city centre since Monday.

“The Chief Minister agreed to meet us on April 10 here to discuss the quantum of wage hike. If he goes back on his assurance, we will lay siege to his residence here,” Varalakshmi warned.

Agreeing to consider their demands, Siddaramaiah on Tuesday appealed to the Anganwadis to call off their protest and called for a meeting with their leaders on April 19, which has now been advanced to April 10.

Around 1.2-lakh Anganwadis and helpers take care of about 60-lakh children, pregnant women and nursing mothers at 65,911 centres across the state for early childhood care and development under the Central Government’s Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) scheme.

As per ICDS guidelines, an Anganwadi is given Rs 3,000 and her helper Rs 1,500 per month as honorarium, with the central and the state governments sharing the cost on 60:40 per cent basis since 2015-16 as against 90:10 per cent basis since the scheme was launched in 1975.

Though the central government did not increase its honorarium since 2011-12, the state government had enhanced it by Rs 500 for Anganwadis and Rs 250 for helpers per month from 2013-14 to 2015-16.

Varalakshmi, however, claimed that their counterparts in the neighbouring states of Goa, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu were being paid Rs 10,000-Rs 14,000 per month.