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CITU complains to ILO on anganwadi layoffs- Mrit News

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CITU gen-sec argues that they are a gross violation of the fundamental rights of the workers

CITU gen-sec argues that they are a gross violation of the fundamental rights of the workers

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has approached the International Labour Organisation (ILO) against the Haryana and Delhi Governments for retrenching 975 and 991 anganwadi workers respectively for striking work demanding an increase in honorarium. CITU general secretary Tapan Sen said in his complaint to Director, Bureau for Workers Activities (ACTRAV) of the ILO Maria Helena Andre that the retrenchments have taken place “under knowledge and instigation” by the Centre.

Mr. Sen argued that the retrenchments were gross violation of several principals of fundamental rights of the workers as enshrined in ILO Conventions, ILO recommendations and declarations. He said the governments also ignored the observation of Committee on Freedom of Association that the final decision concerning illegality of strikes should not be made by the government, especially in those cases in which the government is a party to the dispute.

“They have denied discussion with the respective trade unions in violation of the principle of tripartite consultation. They have imposed Acts which are not relevant to this section of workers. They have terminated the workers without following principle of natural justice. They have pushed the workers to poverty and starvation by not paying wages for months together,” Mr. Sen said urging the ILO to contact the Government of India and insist them to withdraw all illegal actions and also direct their State governments to follow suit.

When contacted, Delhi State Women and Child Development Minister Kailash Gehlot declined to comment and said the matter is sub judice. The anganwadi workers had approached the Delhi High Court against the retrenchments. Haryana’s Women and Child Development Minister Kamlesh Dhanda could not be contacted.

Mr. Sen said the anganwadi workers have worked in the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic situation, in coordination with the health departments concerned, without any additional wages or risk allowance, despite their service being duly acknowledged by the government.

“These workers are paid wages termed as ‘honorarium’ which is far less than the minimum wages of the country. The last increase in remuneration was made in 2018 by the Government of India. But several State governments including the States of Delhi and Haryana did not implement this increase. In addition, for several months wages and allowances of the anganwadi workers and helpers had not been paid in States like Haryana, Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra,” the complaint said, adding that workers went on strike as the last resort after duly serving strike notice.

He said the Delhi government imposed Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) whereas healthcare or nutritional supplements are not contained in this act or in its schedule. “Moreover Indian Trade Union Act prohibits application of criminal proceeding on trade union activities. Yet this action by the Government of Delhi is ultra vires as it is untenable to invoke ESMA on the people who had been agitating peacefully on their demands for survival since they were not paid wages from January, 2022,” Mr. Sen said. He said though the unions withdrew the strike and workers joined duty on the next day itself, the State expelled 991 anganwadi workers and helpers many on March 12.

“The Haryana government has terminated 975 anganwadi workers and helpers, all of them leaders of the trade union,” Mr. Sen said.

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