MUMBAI: Finally, the State government bowed down to pressure from Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP and stayed invocation of the stringent Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA), 2017 MESMA against anganwadi workers.
Last week, the State government had invoked MESMA against anganwadi workers. The move came after anganwadi workers went on strike for 26 days last year while pressing for their demands including an increase in honorarium. There are 2.07 lakh anganwadi workers and helpers in the state.
The Act empowers authorities to take strong action like detention against the workers of services covered under the law if they go on strike. All offences covered under the Act are non-bailable, according to its provisions.
Last week NCP and Congress were aggressive on the issue, but this week Shiv Sena became aggressive over the issue and started to put pressure on the government to stay the invocation of the act. Last three days the Shiv Sena, a ruling partner didn't allow the House to function. The Shiv Sena tried to corner Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde on the issue.
The Assembly witnessed eight adjournments before the Presiding Officer, Yogesh Sagar, put the budgetary demands to vote amid noisy scenes and finally adjourned the House for the day.
On Wednesday, Pankaja Munde was firm that the government would not withdraw the act, and announced it in the House too. On Thursday as the Assembly began the work for the day, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that the government decided to withdraw the act.
Fadnavis said, "Considering the sentiments of the House, the government has decided to stay the MESMA against anganwadi workers."
Earlier this month, the anganwadi workers sat on a dharna at Azad Maidan in Mumbai and threatened to go on strike in support of their demands for a raise in their honorarium and retain their retirement age at 65 years instead of 60.