Raise Anganwadi Workers' Wages: HC to Govt
By Express News Service | Published: 15th March 2014 09:40 AM |
The Kerala High Court on Friday directed the state government to increase the wages of the anganwadi workers to `5,000 and that of the helpers to `3500.
Justice A V Ramakrishna Pillai passed the order while allowing the petitions filed by Thresia C X and 51 others belonging to Palluruthi, Kochi, stating that the wages being paid to them is below the minimum wages in spite of the hectic work assigned to them.
As of now, the anganwadi workers are getting a total emolument of `4,000 and the helpers `2,500. The petitioners submitted that, other than the duties, they were preparing food for children, distributing nutritious snacks, giving pre-school education and are conducting house visits to check-up pregnant women. They are also being deployed in governmental scheme, including pulse polio campaigns and animal census.
The Central government submitted that it was providing 90 per cent of the funds for the administrative and operational cost of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and 10 per cent of the cost is being borne by the state. The government has taken a stand that the workers and helpers cannot be declared as government employees. Hence they are not entitled to benefits like pension and gratuity.
The court pointed out that one cannot be oblivious of the fact that the presence of anganwadi workers and helpers in their respective villages is extremely important.
Counsel for the petitioners argued that the work done by the petitioners was not less noble or tiresome than the work of primary school teachers who get a minimum of `15,000. It was also pointed out that part-time sweepers in the state are given `6000 and above.
The Assistant Solicitor General argued that the petitioners are not civil servants and they cannot claim any enhancement of emoluments. The court observed that if the anganwadi workers and helpers are under the dictate of the governments, they are entitled to a decent remuneration to lead a decent living. It also directed the Centre to appoint a commission without delay to study the issue and report suggesting ways and means to improve the service conditions of anganwadi workers. A report should be filed within six months from the date of appointment.
The Central and state governments should consider the report at a joint meeting. The court also made it clear that the additional financial burden on account of the interim measure should be borne by the Central government.