Delhi LG invokes Essential Services Continuation Act to ban strike by Anganwadi workers

Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal imposed the Continuing Essential Services Act (ESMA) for six months, banning Anganwadi workers from striking.

This prohibits strikes for a period of six months from the date of issue of this notification. (Picture: Twitter)

Declaring the services rendered by Anganwadi workers “essential”, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Wednesday imposed the Essential Services Continuation Act (ESMA) for six months, banning them from striking.

The Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union (DSAWHU), which has been on strike since January 1 demanding higher fees, respectable working hours and government employee status, criticized the decision and said that he would challenge it in court on Thursday.

On International Women’s Day on March 8, DSAWHU organized a massive rally which saw the participation of thousands of Anganwadi workers.

“Anganwadi workers are not considered government employees and as far as I know ESMA can only be invoked against civil servants. The Delhi government led by the Aam Aadmi party and the center led by the BJP have been scared by our strike and are using these tactics to scare,” DSAWHU chairman Shivani Kaul said on Wednesday.

According to an official notification, services rendered by Anganwadi workers have been declared essential.

“The Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi is satisfied that the services of Supplementary Nutrition, Immunization, Health Checkup, Counselling, Non-Formal Early Childhood Education and Nutrition and Health Education provided by Anganwadi workers and Anganwadi helpers at Anganwadi centers are essential services for the most vulnerable groups of the population, including children up to 6 years old, pregnant and lactating women in the National Capital Territory of Delhi and it is necessary and timely to declare these services as essential services,” it read.

This prohibits the strike for a period of six months from the date of issue of this notification, it specifies.

Meanwhile, the LG has handed over responsibility for the Department of Women and Child Development (WCD) to the Minister of Transport, Kailash Gahlot. Rajendra Pal Gautam was minister of the WCD. He will continue to hold the other charges.

Gahlot is also responsible for the Departments of Law, Justice and Legislative Affairs, Revenue as well as some other departments.

Michelle J. Kelley