Thousands of workers, mainly women and some accompanied by children, geared up to spend the night under the Bengaluru sky outside Freedom Park on March 21.
Organising themselves into groups based on the district they hailed from, the women pulled out blankets from their bags as the sky turned dark, and lay down to sleep on one of the busiest stretches in Bengaluru.
These women had gathered here for a simple reason: to demand that the government hike their salaries enough to at least pay for the basic necessities of life.
After four days of continuous protest, without proper food or water, Karnataka Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah had promised to meet the workersâ€™ representatives on April 10, after the Nanjangud and Gundlupet bye-polls.
On Monday, CM Siddaramaiah and Minister for Women and Child Welfare, Umashree met representatives of the Anganwadi workers including the President of the Karnataka Anganwadi Workersâ€™ Association, Varalakshmi, and the meeting ended in an amicable settlement.
According to Varalakshmi, the anganwadi workers had demanded a 43% pay hike. â€śThe Chief Minister has told us that due to crunch in funds, the salaries for anganwadi teachers, which is currently at Rs 6,000 will be increased to Rs 8,000, for anganwadi helpers it will increase from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000,â€ť Varalakshmi added.
â€śThe Central government was supposed to sanction 80% of the funds for the anganwadi workersâ€™ payment. In 2016, the Central government had announced that anganwadi workers must be paid Rs 14,000 and the funds for it were to be given by the Centre. The Centre has sanctioned only half of it. The anganwadi workers have agreed to meet us halfway and the meeting was a success,â€ť CM Siddaramaiah told media persons.
Apart from increments, anganwadi workers have also requested the state government to begin kindergarten facilities in anganwadis.
â€śWe have proposed that the state government set aside funds for starting kindergarten in anganwadis. We want to start the creche system as we believe that it will act as a transition from anganwadi level to Class 1,â€ť Varalakshmi said.
These workers are planning to protest outside the homes of Lok Sabha MPs from Karnataka and demand sanction of the funds from the Centre meant for their wages.
â€śThe Central government has to sanction the funds it had promised. When we protested in Bengaluru at Freedom Park, the state government has done its bit and increased the wages. It is time for the Centre to act,â€ť Varalakshmi added.
The anganwadi workersâ€™ representatives from all districts have called for a meeting in which they will discuss the date of the protest.