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Union raises voice for midday meal workers

Special Correspondent

Silchar, January 6: The fate and tale of  neglect and deprivation of midday meal workers is not unknown. It has been highlighted umpteen times by the unions and the media, but without any appreciable change. The Cachar district committee of Assam Majuri Sramik Union in a fresh memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar today reminds him of similar representation in the past. No action has been initiated to meet the various demands of the midday meal workers including payment of arrears. He has again been urged upon to have a passiote consideration of the plight of helpless women engaged in the job and do justice to them.

In order to focus on and press for fulfillment of their demands, midday meal workers staged protest demonstration before the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar before submission of the memorandum.

The memorandum signed by Dharitri Sharma and 22 other midday meal workers stated that the they should be treated at par with other working class people as resolved in the 45th tiol Labour Conference in 2013. They have to be provided minimum wages and social security. The Human Resource Ministry of the then UPA Government committed itself to pay their remunerations at enhanced rate from the fincial year 2013–14. Besides according them the status of  recognized labour class, their minimum wages, pension and social security have to be ensured.

It also refers to the 4:7 clause of the report of the 5th Joint Review Mission of Assam has made it clear about the important role of midday workers. They are to cook and serve the meals to children, maintaining  hygienic environ around. They have also to see that nutritious food is given to them. But due to the negligent attitude of the advisors  and executive authority, midday meal workers have to face lot of difficulties, hampering their smooth and efficient functioning.

Midday meal workers, it has been further alleged in the memorandum, are not given appointment letters. The payment of their remunerations are also irregular, leading to accumulation of arrears. While making payment, commissions are deducted from their remunerations. Consequent upon, they to work under extreme mental and physical strains and stresses. An uncertainty always haunts them about the continuity of services that pushes them to a state of helplessness and tells adversely on their works.

The memorandum has also reference of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General dated March 31, 2010 which brings to the forth serious anomalies and corruptions in the implementation of midday meal scheme. Against the fixed 222 days, midday meals had been served for 144 days only to the primary school children. 68 days midday meal was served against the target of 205 days to higher primary school level  children. Nor was nutritious food  provided.

In view of these grievances and pending demands, Sramik Union has pressed for issue of appointment letters to midday meal workers and also identity cards. Let there be uniform service code in the country in order to ensure justice to them in respect of their regular payment of remunerations. It has opposed privatization move of the government. Besides, other specific grievances and demands as raised in the memorandum have to be looked after for due consideration and immediate and effective execution.     

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Ankur Kalita

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