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‘Akshara Dasoha’ workers lay siege to Udupi Zilla Panchayat office

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RAISING THEIR VOICE: Workers of mid-day meal scheme staging a protest in front of the zilla panchayat office in Udupi on Friday.
RAISING THEIR VOICE: Workers of mid-day meal scheme staging a protest in front of the zilla panchayat office in Udupi on Friday.

Staff Correspondent

Udupi: The Udupi district unit of Karnataka Rajya Akshara Dasoha Naukarara Sangha, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), laid siege to the zilla panchayat office here on Friday seeking fulfilment of their various demands.

In a memorandum, addressed to the Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and submitted at the zilla panchayat office, the sangha said that the “Akshara Dasoha” scheme had been started in the State after the Supreme Court had directed the State government to introduce it in schools to bring down the rate of school drop-outs and to provide the schoolchildren with nutritious food.

Over one lakh women were working under the scheme with low salaries. Although these women workers came from poor families, the Government had not paid any attention to improving their living conditions. The petitions submitted to the Government highlighting their pitiful plight had proved to be futile. The Government’s move to hand over the mid-day meal scheme to private organisations was a regressive step, the protesters said in the memorandum and urged the Government to drop the proposal immediately and announce a slew of measures to protect the welfare of the workers involved in it.

The Department of Education had recommended on May 18, 2007 that the Akshara Dasoha workers should be given a minimum allowance of Rs. 74 a day. This should be implemented. The Government should provide insurance cover to the cooks. These workers should be given job security. The cooking place in schools should be at a distance from the school premises and all safety measures should be implemented there. The women workers should be given maternity allowance and maternity leave. Salaries should be paid on time through banks. Special service rules should be drafted for the Akshara Dasoha workers, the memorandum said.

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