Nine central kitchens affected in Puducherry

For the second time in the last two months, strike by daily-rated and part-time workers affected work at nine central kitchens in Puducherry which supply noon meals to government schools. The Education Department put in place alternative arrangements to avoid disruption in providing noon meal to students.

Workers of various government departments launched a strike from Tuesday demanding regularisation. The Education Department came out with alternative arrangements and roped in members of self-help groups, professional cooks and meal carriers at the central kitchens.

“Except the one at Thondamanatham, all kitchens functioned on Tuesday. Bread was distributed to government schools surrounding the Thondamanatham kitchen,” a senior official of the Education Department said.

On Wednesday, all nine kitchens functioned with SHGs, meal carriers and professional cooks engaged in cooking. “There were 170 part-time workers and 40 daily-rated working at the central kitchens,” he said.

The department plans to continue with the same arrangements on Thursday. The central kitchens located at Kuruchikuppam, Shanmugapuram, Pillaichavady, Ariyankuppam, Kirumampakkam, Kalmandapam, Embalam, Villianur and Thondamanatham catered for 82,000 students, he said.

The workers earlier went on a strike on February 3, when members of various organisations chipped in to cook for the students. With the strike resuming, representatives of People's Pulse and PondyCAN met the Chief Education Officer on Wednesday.

“We have suggested that a meeting of education committees and parent-teacher associations of all schools is convened. We are ready to volunteer to take up the work along with the members of these committees and associations,” P. Devanathan of People's Pulse said.

Call for permanent mechanism

The representatives also called for a permanent mechanism in times of such crises so that the noon meal scheme is not affected.

P. Lakshmanaswamy, general secretary of Pondicherry State Government Employees Central Federation, said that about 1,500 daily-rated workers and 1,000 part-time workers from various government departments were on strike.

“The Chief Minister had earlier assured us that they will fulfil the demands of the workers by March 15 but no action was taken,” he said.

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