MDM Workers’ Protest Before Odisha Assembly

In Odisha, one lakh sixty thousand Mid-Day Meal (MDM) workers and helpers are working in different primary and upper primary schools for cooking of mid meals for students. Many of them have been working since 1995, and presently they are getting only Rs. 1,400/- per month, which is in violation of the minimum wages of government rules.
Though all MDM workers are working in schools for 8 hours per day, they are getting abysmally low wages. On March 13, around 20 thousand workers came together under the banner of Pachika Sahayika Joint Forum, formed by AITUC, HMS, CITU, AICCTU and AIUTUC. Due to their demonstration, the government released 28 months arear wages of MDM workers along with one pair of saree immediately.
But the government had given assurance to enhance wages. They failed to keep their promise.
Against this background, on September 27, 10 thousand MDM workers protested and gave in a memorandum to the education minister on with a 15-point demand. This included a hike in wages to Rs. 26,000 /- per month, ensuring regular employment, insurance with retirement benefits, ensuring 12 months’ wages instead of 10 months’ wages, withdrawal of labor code, and scrapping of the new education policy.
The MDM workers refused to go back to their places of work without any assurance from the ministry. The dharana continued for another day, and again a memorandum was submitted: this time to the finance minister. He expressed his view that within two months, the government will take action of the 6th and 7th points of the 15-point charter of demands.
After that, the leaders sent a delegation with the consent of MDM workers and called off the strike. n