The Telegraph
Saturday , July 29 , 2017

Workers oppose privatisation

Guwahati, July 28: Members of the All Assam Midday Meal Workers' Union today staged a demonstration in Guwahati asking the government to stop handing over the midday meal scheme to the Akshaya Patra Foundation.

Around 8,000 midday meal workers participated in today's agitation.

At the start of the protest, the union announced that they would march to Raj Bhavan and submit a memorandum to governor Banwarilal Purohit. But later they had to cancel the plan as the governor is on an official tour and is out of station.

A delegation of the workers' union moved the governor's office, met Raj Bhavan officials and handed over the memorandum. They also asked for an appointment with the governor to raise their demands. An official assured them that a bilateral discussion would be arranged within two days.

Union president Lila Saikia said the government is trying to hand over the scheme to the private sector. "Our union has opposed this decision of the government. If Akshaya Patra Foundation starts providing midday meals in Assam's schools, 1,14,000 workers will become jobless. If the government had this idea of handing over the scheme to the private sector, why were more workers recruited? Now how they will survive?" Saikia asked.

In the memorandum, the union opposed the government's decision and also demanded for their unpaid salaries to be released.

"In Assam, the midday meal scheme was implemented in 2005. But from 2005 to 2009, no cook or worker got a single paisa as salary. From December 2009, the government started paying Rs 1,000 per month. But this salary is only for 10 months. In July because of summer vacation and in December because of winter vacation no salary is given to us," union general secretary Chitra Rajbongshi told The Telegraph.

"We have to spend around five hours in preparing the meals. So, we have no time to pursue other jobs and that is why we have demanded a reasonable rise in salaries. It is not possible to survive even in rural areas on Rs 1,000 a month. We demand our salaries to be raised to Rs 5,000."

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