Huge Demonstration of Mid Day Meal Workers in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh!
On October 27, the Eco Garden of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, witnessed a militant demonstration of the scheme workers. Earlier, on September 25, 2023, thousands of ASHA Sanginis and workers had pledged to overthrow the Modi government by holding a militant demonstration. This time on October 27, hundreds of MDM workers from different districts staged a massive protest for their demands. The MDM workers are made to work with an honorarium of Rs 1500. Their situation resembles a form of modern-day servitude. In a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the MDM workers have put forth several demands. These include a minimum monthly wage of Rs 21,000, along with additional benefits such as ESI, PF, pension contributions, official recognition as state employees, and the immediate settlement of outstanding honorarium and an end to practice of mid-day meal contracts with NGOs.
During the demonstration, AICCTU state president Vijay Vidrohi addressed the crowd, stating that the Modi-Yogi government of the BJP is anti-labor and anti-poor. He emphasised that the government's alterations of labour laws have placed workers on a path to exploitation, akin to modern-day slavery. Vidrohi further asserted that fair wages are fundamental rights, and to secure them, organised and unorganised labourers must unite with other societal movements to remove the BJP government from power.
Kamala Gautam, the State President of the Mid Day Meal Workers Union, pointed out that the government has failed to comply with the 2020 directive from the Allahabad High Court, which mandated the payment of minimum wages, including arrears dating back to 2005. She also drew attention to the challenging conditions faced by MDM workers statewide who not only handle cooking but are also tasked with cleaning and peon duties. Adding to their difficulties, they are obligated to prepare meals using makeshift wood-burning methods.
The gathering was addressed by several Trade Union leaders, including AICCTU State Secretary Anil Verma, AICCTU State Executive Member and leader of MDM workers movement Premlata Pandey, AICCTU State Vice President SM Zaidi, AICCTU leader Rana Singh, and more. MDM workers from 10 different districts joined the demonstration. n