The Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act 2017 (MESMA) was a “draconian” law for Anganwadi workers, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray today said. “We will not allow the government to invoke MESMA on Anganwadi workers. It is a draconian law. We will oppose it and take up the issue in both Houses of the state Legislature tomorrow,” Thackeray said.
He was speaking to reporters here after a delegation of Anganwadi workers met him.
Apart from their opposition to the inclusion of their services under MESMA, the delegation also raised issues like not getting two hikes, as promised by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in October last year, and the reduction of their retirement age from 65 to 60.
Last week, the state government had banned strikes by the state’s 2.07 lakh Anganwadi workers, who run the Centre’s Integrated Child Development Scheme, a crucial programme which battles malnutrition among young children as well as pregnant and lactating women.
Anganwadi workers had gone on a strike for 26 days last year demanding an increase in their honorarium among others issues.
Earlier in the day, Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde had raised the issue in the Legislative Council and said the government was moving towards dictatorship by invoking the MESMA Act against Anganwadi workers.
“It is nothing but dictatorship to invoke MESMA to stop their protests. These Anganwadi workers don’t have any other source of income and many of them are widows. The government is not giving them a satisfactory honorarium. This is injustice,” Munde said.
Meanwhile, M A Patil of the Maharashtra State Anganwadi Workers’ Action Committee said Anganwadi workers are not government employees.
“They work on honorarium and are not entitled to any government benefits. If government considers them its employees, then the Seventh Pay Commission should apply to them,” Patil said. PTI MM