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ASHAs Protest in front of Bihar Assembly Demanding Monthly Salary

The health activists demanded a monthly salary of Rs 21,000 and the status of government employees.
Asha Workers

Patna: Hundreds of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) staged a protest in front of the Assembly in Patna on Friday demanding monthly salary and settlement of long-pending demands. Slogan-shouting ASHAs threatened to intensify their protest in the coming days if the Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance government fails to fulfil their demands.

The ASHAs from across the state took out a march that later turned into a demonstration at the Gardanibagh protest site under the banner of ASHA Sanyukt Sangharsh Manch to protest the “step-motherly treatment by the state government” despite their hours of dedicated daily work in rural and urban areas. The Manch, a joint platform of various unions and associations, is fighting for the long-pending demands of the community health workers in the state.

During the protest, Sashi Yadav, president, Bihar Rajya ASHA Karyakarta Sangh, alleged that the state government has been “exploiting the health activists by making them work 24x7 without paying any honorarium or minimum salary”. Last time, when thousands of ASHAs went on an indefinite strike in December 2018 and ended it in January 2019, the state government was forced to announce a monthly honorarium of Rs 1,000. “However, the government cheated the ASHAs by turning the honorarium into an incentive. We want a monthly salary; no less than that,” he said.

The state government’s “apathy continued” despite the health activists doing excellent work on the ground, Yadav said. “They worked hard during COVID-19 by risking their lives. The state government should provide a monthly honorarium to the ASHAs and give them the status of government employees.”

Demanding a monthly salary of Rs 21,000 for the health activists, Yadav said, “Our protest will continue from the Assembly to the streets till the state government announces a monthly salary.” The protesting ASHAs repeatedly demanded a monthly salary of Rs 21,000 and the status of government employees.

CPI(ML) legislative party leader Mahboob Alam said that Left MLAs have raised the demands of the ASHAs in the Assembly and “will meet the chief minister to demand a decent monthly honorarium for their livelihood”. Alleging that the health activists are being exploited, he said, “The ASHAs should be given the status of government employees and a monthly honorarium.” Left parties, including the Communist Party of India, the CPI(M) and the CPI(ML) have been supporting the protest of the health activists.

The ASHAs have been demanding 50% posts of block community coordinators for eligible activists, an honorarium, employees’ state insurance, Employees Provident Fund and social security for the last several years.

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