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ASHA Workers Gather in Lucknow, Demand Minimum Wage and Employee Benefits

ASHA workers feel it is shameful for the nation that the government is not ready to recognise their selfless work during the pandemic and regularise them as permanent employees.
Asha Workers

Lucknow: Hundreds of ASHA (accredited social health activists) workers and Sanginis (helpers), dressed in their trademark red, on Tuesday gathered at Vidhan Sabha under the banner of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) in Lucknow from across Uttar Pradesh to demand their right to basic necessities.

A delegation of ASHA workers submitted a memorandum of ten demands to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's office highlighting the difficulties they are facing. However, no promises were made by the government.

Their demands included notification of all scheme workers who are deputed on COVID-19 duty as frontline workers, ensuring availability of protective gear for all health and frontline workers engaged in pandemic management, Rs 50 lakh insurance cover to all frontline workers who died on duty, coverage of medical expenses for treatment of COVID-19 for the entire family, additional COVID-19 risk allowance of Rs 10,000 per month and payment of pending dues. They also demanded a hike in their income and wanted to be upgraded to state-government employees. These frontline workers threatened to protest outside the CM's residence if their demands were not fulfilled.

Addressing the ASHA workers, Veena Gupta, secretary of All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) said that that a number of ASHA workers have so far been martyred in the fight against COVID-19 while saving thousands of lives. But it is shameful for the nation that the government is not ready to recognise their selfless work during the pandemic and regularise them as permanent employees, she added. Gupta asked the ASHAs to continue their struggle for getting their demands fulfilled.

In her address, Gupta further said that their counterparts in other states like Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are getting wages of more than Rs 10,000 per month but ASHAs in Uttar Pradesh are getting a meager remuneration of Rs 2,000 only. She said that they are being put on almost 24 hours duty without leave and demanded that ASHAs be given Rs 21,000 per month minimum wages besides social security benefits like pension, EPF, ESI and free medical treatment.

Dilip Shukla, member of union, said that they have already submitted a memorandum of demands to Lt Governor as well as Mission Director of NHM Uttar Pradesh. Their demands include an increase in remuneration, additional increase of Rs 1,000 in wages every year, special allowance for COVID duties, Rs 50 lakh to dependents of those ASHAs who died due to pandemic (under insurance scheme announced by the government for frontline workers), among others.

Seema Singh, state head of the ASHA Karyakarta and Sangini Welfare Association, said that the government has abandoned them since the second wave of COVID-19 has ended. “We go door to door in the scorching heat. Some of us even fall sick, but we continue our work because we know that if we sit back, many others will suffer. But the government is adamant to not understand our plight."

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