Thousands of mid-day meal (MDM) cooks from all districts of Bihar, under the banner of Bihar Rajya Vidhyalaya Rasoiya Sangh, have been continuously on an indefinite strike since 7th January. During their agitation, they held a mahapadav in front of the residence of the Chief Minister. The strike is continuing till this paper went to the press.
The main demands of the MDM cooks include the following:
1. Wages of MDM cooks should be immediately raised. The minimum must be 18,000 per month.
2. Like the cooks in other states of Kerala, Haryana, Karnataka, Goa, Tripura, the payment of salaries to the Bihar MDM cooks should be in accordance with the recommendations of the 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference.
3. All schools must provide sheds for cooking the food.
4. There should be store rooms and availability of clean drinking water.
5. Cooks should be provided two sets of uniforms and should be given laundary allowance.
6. District and state level resolution committee should be constituted discussing and resolving the issues of cooks.
7. All cooks who have been terminated in arbitrary mannerr as per the directions of the Department must be reinstated.
8. There should a strict prohibition on additional work over and above the regular work of cooks.
9. Upon merger of schools without land and building with other primary schools, the integration of MDM cooks should be ascertained along with integration of teachers.
10. Retirement age should fixed at 65 years.
11. All cooks should be given appointment letters, selection letters and homeless cooks should be offered Indira Awas Yojna facility.
It is worth noting that since 19th November, cooks' organisations across India had come to Delhi to submit their demands in front of the Modi government. However, government has not given any attention to their demands.
According to news reports, there were dharnas and demonstrations in front of all district headquarters in Bihar. In many District headquarters, effigies of the Chief Minister were burnt. Dharnas and demonstrations are continuing in all district headquarters.