Aganwari are helpers in the public schools, who deal with everything from cooking to watching over the children. In Bihar, a state in the north-east of India, they made around 1.000INR per month, which hadn’t been increased for ages and is very low compared to others states (for instance, Kerala pays aganwari 10.000, Andra Pradesh: 8.000). They have to work for 10 to 12 hours each day, divided in two sections: teachers and helpers (cook) for children 0 to 6 year old from 500 families per helper and many extra responsibilities: polio vaccinations, surveys, caring for sick mothers, etc.
CFTUI, the WSM partner has an affiliated trade union of Aganwari with with 25.000 members out of a total of 70.000 teachers and 70.000 helpers). The demands for raise have been since a long time, with in 2010, finally an increase from 1.000 to 3.000INR.
Since this was still very low, their leadership decided in April to conduct a campaign for increase with:
- Agitation on 6th June
- Block and hunger strike in 250 localities 9 and 10 June across Bihar with around 25000 participants
- State wide strike in 3rd of July
They timed these events with the upcoming elections (October) which means public pressure can be increased and before the ban on political rallies starts. The women meet in front of child development centers, under 45° heat and do a hunger strike. The main demand includes increase of wages, enhancement of retirement age among others.
Bihar Aganwari Karamchari Sangh organised a massive demonstration on 6 July 2015 in Patna, in front of Bihar assembly (Chief Minister), pressing for their thirteen points charter of demands. Thousands of workers brought that part of the city to a standstill, they remained defiant, though peaceful and spent the night on roads. The agitation began by address from Sri Neeraj Chaubey, general secretary CFTUI who urged the workers of state Aganwari to remain united for their legitimate demands. There after Sri Ajit Srivastav, treasure CFTUI and Smt Geeta Devi, President of Aganwari Union also addressed the gathering. The agitation got support from a few leading MP and MLA’s of various parties by their presence on dais and they spoke out in favour of the agitating employees.
In a historic achievement, yesterday on occasion of India’s Independence Day celebration, Chief Minister of Bihar Sri Nitish Kumar announced a 25% hike in Aganwari Karamchari’s salaries. He further added that he will recommend all the demands of agitating Aganwari Karamchari’s to the Central Government for sympathetic consideration for implementation.
|Neeraj Chaubey, General Secretary CFTUI
Sri Neeraj Chaubey, National General Secretary of CFTUI congratulated the agitating Karamchari’s and urged them to postpone the agitation in view of impending general election in the state and also to give the government time to act upon their promises. He further complemented Geeta Devi and other functionaries of union to successfully leading the campaign as also increasing the union base by virtue of another faction of local bodies joining them.