‘Cooked’ midday meal workers: No more food in Karnataka

Bengaluru: With no response from the state government to their demands for a wage hike and other benefits, over one lakh mid-day meal workers are threatening to stop cooking across the state from Friday, depriving  lakhs of school students of their free lunch.

‘No choice’
“No representative of the education department or Minister Tanveer Sait has said anything promising, and so we may have no choice but to stop cooking the mid-day meals across the state from Friday,” warned Ms Varalakshmi S,  president of the Karnataka State Midday Meals Workers’ Association.

Explaining that midday meal workers started their day at around 9.30 am and worked for nearly seven hours afterwards, she said besides cooking they did a lot of other work like washing utensils and  sweeping school campuses for which they were not paid. 

“They also cook on  national festivals, special village events,  and even during elections, as and when the need arises, and are not paid for this either,” she complained.

Meagre pay
Currently they are paid a meagre Rs 2,200 with the state contributing Rs 1600 and the Centre, Rs 600. 

Assurance
“During our protest  in September last year, we were assured of a wage hike, but nothing happened,”  she added regretfully.

Traffic affected
Traffic towards the Majestic area was affected as thousands of mid-day meal workers took out a procession from the city railway station to the Freedom Park to participate in the protest there

Security beefed up at rail station
There was tight security at the city railway station on Thursday morning as thousands of mid-day meal workers  arrived on trains from across the state to participate in the protest at the Freedom Park.

Nearly 600 police personnel were deployed to manage the angry workers. As many as 10 KSRP platoons, 50 sub-inspectors, 10 inspectors and three assistant commissioners of police along with constables stood guard outside the railway station to stop any trouble from breaking out.

The workers later joined the ongoing mid-day meal protest which entered its fourth day at the Freedom Park which too had heavy police presence. The area was barricaded as the protesters had planned to lay siege to the Vidhana Soudha.

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