Inaugural Conference of Midday Meal Workers' Association

The Bihar State Midday Meal Workers’ Association held its inaugural conference in Patna on 17 May 2015.

The conference was inaugurated by AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari. In her address, she said that the Central and State governments have launched many schemes for whose implementation lakhs of women across the country are working. However, most of these women have not been given the status of government employee. They are forced to work for a mere pittance in extremely difficult conditions, thus subjecting them to great economic oppression, and not even giving them basic respect, recognition and dignity.

She pointed out that their conditions have become even worse after the Modi government came to power at the centre. The Modi government is bent upon suppressing trade union rights of workers in order to benefit corporate houses, and the Nitish government is following in the centre’s footsteps. The Nitish Government in Bihar talks big about policies for women, but the condition of women in the State are going from bad to worse. She called upon women not to be taken in by religious or communal ploys, and to take active part in the struggles led by AIPWA and AICCTU o find solutions to their problems.

All women working on contractual/honorarium basis need to organize themselves strongly on a State level, sharpen and strengthen their struggle, and develop joint action plans with other midday meal workers’ organizations in the State. She said that the inaugural conference of the Bihar State Midday Meal Workers’ Association would prove to be an important milestone in this direction.

Addressing the conference, AIPWA State President Saroj Chaubey said that the number of women mid-day meal workers in Bihar is about 1 ¼ lakhs, and they get a mere Rs 1000 monthly honorarium. They are deprived of all social security benefits. In the recent past these workers have organized struggles at block, district, and State level with their 17 point charter of demands. On 31 March thousands of mid-day meal workers had demonstrated in front of the Chief Minister, who has ignored the demands. Therefore, this State conference has been organized to unite all these women on the State level and strengthen their struggle.

Addressing the conference, AIPWA State Secretary Shashi Yadav said that the government is ill-treating all contractual/honorarium workers, whether they are midday meal workers, ASHA workers, or school teachers. She called upon the mid-day meal workers to organize themselves and agitate in solidarity with other workers’ and women’s struggles in the State and country.

The conference was also addressed by AICCTU State General Secretary RN Thakur, Non-gazetted Workers’ Association (Gope group) General Secretary Premchand Sinha, Contractual Workers’ United Front General Secretary Shivshankar Prasad, AICCTU National Secretary Ranvijay Kumar, TET-STET Teachers’ Association State President Markandeya Pathak, and other leaders.

The open session of the conference was conducted by Saroj Choubey; Sohila read out the document. Sona Devi, Ragini Devi, Rita Devi, Lalita Devi, and other representatives of mid-day meal workers expressed their views on the document.

A State council of 39 members was elected. Saroj Choubey and Sohila Gupta were elected State President and Secretary respectively; with Shashi Yadav and Damayanti Sinha as Vice-Presidents, and Sona Devi and Savitri Devi as Joint Secretaries. About 250 mid-day meal workers from various districts participated in the conference.

Liberation Archive