Alappuzha: As the government moves to hand over cooking in schools to the Kudumbasree Mission, those who are engaged in the work for years are a worried lot.
Most of the cooks have put in more than 60 years of work but they have never been recognized by the government. The meager salary they get makes it difficult for their families to make ends meet. If the work is handed over to the mission, their life would become difficult, they said.
At present, there are about 16,000 cooks employed in schools. A worker gets Rs 400 per day if the school has minimum 150 students. They don't get paid for weekly offs and holidays. Though the government pays the salary, they are appointed by the parent-teacher association.
Of late, the salary is transferred online but it reaches the account only by the middle of the month. Since the pay is low, most of the workers have to look for outside work. Only those schools that have more than 500 children are allowed to employ an additional hand. At other schools, they have to work alone.
Apart from cooking, at some schools they are forced to clean washrooms and other sundry jobs in the schools.
The process to hand over cooking to Kudumbasree has already started and will result in job loss to those who have been working in the field for many years. In some cases, the workers are 80 years old, thus making it difficult for them to find another job to support their families.
The Kerala State Cooking Workers Association office-bearers CT Radha, Omanayamma and Moly Geevarghese have sought recognition and government incentives for the workers.
They have also submitted a request to the state and central government seeking government recognition of the job, welfare fund, pension, health insurance and compensation for job loss during vacation.
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