Mumbai: The Children’s Aid Society Employees’ Union has decided to agitate against the state government for non-fulfilment of demands for timely salaries, pension and provident fund and lack of infrastructural facilities across eight juvenile observation homes across Mumbai. Two hundred and fifty union workers plan to strike before the July session if their demands are not met.
A meeting was convened by the union on Saturday evening to discuss the matter. The Children’s Aid Society governs eight juvenile observation homes across Mumbai.
On June 5, a notice had been issued to Pankaja Munde, Minister of Women and Child Welfare department, in this regard. According to Rajesh Nichite, the Union Secretary of the Children’s Aid Society Employees, “We have not received any response so far from the Women and Child Welfare Department and from the Principal Secretary. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had himself given directions to the Women and Child department in March 2016 at the budget session to look into this matter but nothing has been done as yet. The state government has not been co-operating at all.”
“We want that the government should take over the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). A total of ninety acres was given to CAS by the government to run eight juvenile homes across Mumbai. However, 25-acre land has been commercially encroached upon. As of date, CAS does not have any standing of its own despite being an autonomous body. The government had given the land on lease to CAS. The lease expired in 1995. Even the managerial positions are held by government employees only. Nearly Rs 2-3 crore bills for food provision for juveniles are outstanding. Water and electricity bills worth Rs 50-60 lakh are outstanding. The government grants only Rs 635 per child for the entire year. However, the total cost per child is Rs 2,500. CAS has no money to pay at all. So, why don’t they hand over the institution to the government, if they are not able to give protection to the children and take care of the employees?” said Nichite.
“Chairman and Chief Executive Officer positions are lying vacant. No government employee has been appointed yet. There is no proper government policy making for almost a decade now. Neither there is any government council to protect encroachment of land,” said Nichite.
Nichite added, “After every 12 years, promotions (upper grade) need to be given to the employees. However, that is being neglected. Salaries have been outstanding for four months. This has been going on since 1982. There is no medical insurance facility and government grant provided to us. However, we have been peacefully trying to negotiate.”
According to Umesh Aravandekar, a member of the union who works as a carpentry teacher at David Sassoon juvenile observation home at Matunga, “All government employees enjoy Provident Fund benefit up to 12%. Although, we are government employees, we are still given Provident Fund benefits of less than 8%. I have not received my salary for four months now.”
“Why can’t we be treated at par along with other government employees who enjoy all benefits. Once a juvenile attacked a staff member on the premises of the David Sassoon home while he was on duty. In spite of the management being aware about this, the staff member had to pay for his medical expenses from his own pocket. He was not even granted leave to recover. Is this how we are supposed to be treated,” said Aravandekar.
Despite several phone calls and text messages, Satish Bansode, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the society, refused to comment.