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Updated: January 24, 2012 09:15 IST

Midday meal workers launch indefinite strike

Staff Reporter
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Karnataka Rajya Akshara Dasoha Naukarara Sangha (State Midday Meal Workers' Association), affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), staged a dharna at Freedom Park seeking fulfilment of their various demands, in Bangalore on January 23, 2012. Photo: K. Murali Kumar.
The Hindu Karnataka Rajya Akshara Dasoha Naukarara Sangha (State Midday Meal Workers' Association), affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), staged a dharna at Freedom Park seeking fulfilment of their various demands, in Bangalore on January 23, 2012. Photo: K. Murali Kumar.

They are demanding minimum wages as per law

Led by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, hundreds of women employed by the State Government as cooks to implement the midday meal scheme, struck work and launched an indefinite protest here on Monday.

Prime among the demands of the agitators is that they must be paid minimum wages as per law. The Akshara Dasoha or midday meal workers are at present being paid Rs. 38 per day whereas the Labour Department has fixed their minimum wages at Rs. 150 per day.

“The irony of our times is that the Government is violating its own laws,” said Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader G.V. Sriram Reddy while addressing the workers. He also lashed out at the Government for not paying salaries to at least 20,000 workers for the past four months.

Outsourcing, its effect

In addition to the demand for minimum wages, the agitators also sought other employment benefits such as regularisation of their services, provident fund and pension. Reiterating a longstanding demand, the memorandum submitted by the agitators said that the privatisation and outsourcing of the midday meal programme must stop at all cost. They pointed out that at least 30,000 of them had lost jobs after the Government decided to outsource cooking to other organisations.

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