Mid-day Meal Workers’ Protest

Bihar Rajya Vidyalaya Rasoiya Sangh and AICCTU held a protest rally to reiterate their demand of regularisation as government employees in front of Bihar Assembly on 3 April. Their other demands also include monthly wage of Rs. 21000 and salary for 12 months in the year.

Bihar Rajya Vidhyalaya Rasoiya Sangh General Secretary Saroj Chaube said that mid-day meal workers are made to work the whole day but they are officially designated as ‘part-time workers’ which is highly unjustified and exploitative on the part of the government. Moreover, in Bihar they are paid a monthly ‘honorarium’ of merely Rs. 1650 which is far less in Bihar as compared to other states. Ever since the Modi government has been in centre, the mid-day meal workers’ honorarium in Bihar has not increased in the last 9 years, only thing this regime has done to this scheme is the change in its name to from Mid-day Meal to PM POSHAN and limited its tenure to five years, while this was meant to be forever. She also said that MDM workers have not been paid for their work in quarantine centres during the pandemic period, nor had the government given compensation to the families of those workers who died on duty of Covid19 during that period.

The protest was also addressed by leader of All India Scheme Workers’ Federation Shashi Yadav. She said that Scheme workers are not recognised as workers by the government and are being paid a highly undignified ‘honorarium’ which is unacceptable. The four Labour Codes brought in by the Modi government have further taken away minimum rights of workers in the unorganised sector. Such a sordid state of affairs needs to be changed.

All India Women’s Association (AIPWA) General Secretary Meena Tiewari addressed the mid-day meal workers and expressed her solidarity with their struggle. She criticised Bihar government for first handing over MDM Scheme to NGOs in some districts and now its planning to give it over to JEEViKA scheme which will endanger the livelihoods of thousands of MDM workers who have been working since two decades. She called for a more intense movement to save the livelihoods and rights of this most important section of workers who are the backbone of our fight against the prevalent malnutrition among rural children.

The protest was also addressed by CPIML MLAs Mahboob Alam, Gopal Ravidas, Amarjit Kushwaha, Manoj Manzil, AITUC leader RK Dutta and AICCTU leader RN Thakur.