Mumbai: The enforcement of the stringent Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) on the 'Anganwadi' workers was essential to deter them from going on strike, the state government said on Tuesday.
State Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde said in the state Legislative Council that the Anganwadi centres were required to function for the lactating and pregnant women, and the malnourished children.
The state government had last week invoked the MESMA against strikes by workers of Anganwadi, the stare-run women and child care centres, after consultations with the law and judiciary department.
"If the Anganwadi workers go on a strike for a month, the children and women are not fed for the same period. Is it wrong to ensure the well-being of malnourished children?" Munde asked in the Upper House.
She sought the opposition's support on the government's decision to invoke MESMA for the sake of women and malnourished children.
Munde said if others like the police, doctors and sweepers could be brought under the Act to ensure law and order and health of citizens, then it could also be applicable on the services of Anganwadi workers.
"Hence, it is essential that there is a law in place for them. However, this law (MESMA) was brought in after all their demands were fulfilled," the minister said.
Meanwhile, Munde also said that the government has revoked its earlier decision of bringing down the retirement age of the Anganwadi workers from 65 to 60, and that the law will only be applicable on new recruits and not those already working at these centres.
The minister further said as soon as she took charge of the department concerned, the honorarium of the Anganwadi workers was increased by Rs 1,000 and last year it was further raised by Rs 1,500.
"The decision for increasing the honorarium by Rs 1,500 was taken in October last year and an outlay of Rs 126 crore was made in this year's budget (for it).
"All, except 6,222 workers, whose Aadhaar cards were not linked to their bank accounts have been given this hike from retrospective effect," Munde said.
She added the workers will be given a further hike of 5 percent in their honorarium from 1 April this year.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde and Shiv Sena member Anil Parab demanded that if MESMA cannot be revoked on the workers, then they should be brought under the ambit of government employees and get all facilities being provided to them.
They also demanded that the benefits of the 7th Pay Commission be applicable to the Anganwadi workers.
Responding to them, Munde said their demands do not come under the scope of her department.
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Updated Date: Mar 20, 2018 15:58:59 IST