Thousands of midday meal cooks from across Karnataka called off their protest strike on Friday night after the government's wage hike assurance, a trade union leader said.
"Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Tanveer Sait and other department officials met us and assured a wage hike after which we're calling off our protest strike,"Centre for Trade Unions (CITU) state President S.Varalakshmi told IANS in Bengaluru.
The CITU, to which the women cooks' association is affiliated, has been spearheading the protest for the past four days.
At least 10,000 women cooks from across the state have been protesting in Bengaluru at the Freedom Park grounds in the city centre demanding wage hike, braving the city's cold and rainy nights.
These cooks get Rs 2,200 per month and their helpers Rs 2,100 for dishing out meals to students in state-run and aided schools and have been demanding to get at least Rs 5,000 per month along with pension enrolment.
There are over 119,000 cooks working in the southern state who prepare meals for over 65,000 primary and secondary schools, feeding at least seven lakh school students each day.
"Since the state budget session is going on, we were told to wait for the wage hike announcement during the budget and were not given any exact hike amount," Varalakshmi said.
Talking to reporters after a meeting with the women cooks' association representatives, Sait reiterated that the government has assured them a wage hike.
"The government has asked the midday meal cooks to call off their strike and has promised them a hike in their honorarium that will be presented in the budget," he said.
The Kerala counterparts of these cooks get a minimum of Rs 400 per day, adding to a monthly earning of around Rs 10,400.
The Midday Meal Scheme was launched by the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao in 1995 in a bid to increase enrolment of children from economically weaker sections in schools.