Ramanamma, an Anganwadi worker, along with a helper Hemalatha, sings and dances and gives nutritious food to scores of tiny tots at an Anganwadi centre in Maddipadu village of Prakasam district besides taking care of pregnant and lactating women.
Their work does not end there. They maintain a large number of registers and ensure that the children are in the pink of health by timely administration of vaccines in coordination with the local ASHA worker Saraswati. They are also involved in various surveys held from time to time and also take up poll-related duties. Their responsibilities further increased after they have been roped in for COVID-19 vaccination drive.
“We do all the work assigned to us with a smiling face. Yet our basic demands like a hike in honorarium, social security benefits including 50% last drawn pay as pension have fallen on deaf ears,” they lament.
The salaries they get are not only inadequate but are also not paid on time, complains Anganwadi Workers and Helpers’ Union Prakasam unit general secretary E. Annapurna.
Their honorarium was hiked after a protracted struggle but that led to denial of benefits of welfare schemes like house sites, Amma Vodi and Vidya Deevana, says Centre of Indian Trade Unions district unit president Ch. Majumdar, while pressing for a minimum wage of ₹21,000 to each worker.
The woes of ASHAs are no different as they too toil under similar working conditions at the grassroots level without social security benefits.