In what could be a major pro-labour reform measure by the Modi government, lakhs of Anganwadi workers stand to get the provident fund (PF) benefit. A meeting in this regard is likely to be held on Thursday by the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
"The Central Board (EPF) may kindly consider for recommendation to the Central Government to issue notification for the Social Security Benefits to the volunteers of various schemes workers i.e. Anganwadi, ASHA, Mid-day Meal Workers under the ambit of EPFO," the Hindu reported, citing agenda papers for the meeting.
The move, if implemented, could benefit 14 lakh such workers and 12 lakh Anganwadi helpers across the country. The PF contribution is likely to be pegged at 10 percent for them as against the 12 percent currently applicable to other workers, the daily added.
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The news comes amid protests by about 1.25 lakh Anganwadi protestors in Karnataka last week, seeking hike in their monthly honararium.
"We represent 1.24 lakh anganwadi workers of the state, who run the the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), a crucial scheme to nurture little children and pregnant women. We work 7 to 8 hours a day and double up as workforce for the government during census, or for implementation of various schemes like Bhagyalakshmi scheme for girl child, Stree Shakti groups among others. Don't we deserve to be recognised as skilled workers?," the Week quoted Bharathi, one of the protesting Anganwadi workers, as saying.
Anganwadi workers and helpers are responsible for running welfare schemes for children, such as the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), apart from those meant for women.
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In Karnataka, Anganwadi workers were demanding a hike from the proposed monthly honararium of Rs 7,000 in the budget to Rs 10,000, while Anganwadi helpers demanded their monthly remuneration to be fixed at Rs 7,500 as against Rs 3,500 proposed by the Congress-led government.
The protestors temporarily withdrew their strike, as the state government assured them to look into it after the bypolls are over, on April 9, since the model code of conduct prevents the government from taking any decision.
In Telangana, Anganwadi workers now get Rs 10,500 per month after the Rs 3,500 hike, benefitting 67,411 employees working at 35,700 Anganwadi centres, the PTI reported last month.
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The other significant item on the EPFO meeting agenda is the hike in salary limit from the current Rs 15,000 per month to Rs 25,000 so as to bring more employees under the PF cover. The move would entail an outgo of Rs 2,700 crore for the Modi government, the Hindu reported.