UP: ASHA Workers Protest Again, not Paid Salaries for Six Months
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: The Indian Express
Lucknow: The foot soldiers of the government health schemes — the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers — have been on an indefinite strike since September 15 in eastern Uttar Pradesh, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's home turf in Gorakhpur, against unpaid salaries for six months. Along with this, they are demanding a monthly salary of Rs 21,000 and the status of government employees.
A delegation of ASHA workers protesting at the Community Health Centers (CHC) in Kushinagar, Mahrajganj, Deoria, Gorakhpur and Basti submitted a memorandum of 10 demands to chief medical officers and district magistrates highlighting the difficulties they are facing.
"They have given assurance that dues will be paid by September 30. If not, we will launch state-wide agitation again, and this time we will boycott work till our demands are not met," Meera told NewsClick.
Rajkumari Devi, Meera, and Anu Devi, along with hundreds of colleagues sitting outside the Community Health Center (CHC) in Kushinagar district, said that their economic conditions worsened as they did not receive a single penny for the last six months.
"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. We have not received our payments since March," Anu Devi, a protesting ASHA worker, told NewsClick, adding that they had to mortgage jewellery for the family's daily spending.
Demanding a monthly salary of Rs 21,000 for the ASHA workers, Jameerun Nisha in Mahrajganj told NewsClick, "Our protest will continue from the district headquarter to the streets of state capital till the state government release or six months pending salary and announces a monthly salary."
The protesting ASHAs demanded a monthly salary of Rs 21,000 and the status of government employees.
A health official based in Gorakhpur, on the condition of anonymity, told NewsClick, "We have some funds which will be given to ASHA workers, but the remaining dues will not be cleared until the government releases funds."
Earlier, ASHA workers from across the state had gathered at Vidhan Sabha in Lucknow, demanding minimum wages and employees benefits. ASHA workers alleged that the government is not ready to recognise their selfless work during the pandemic and regularise them as permanent employees.
A delegation of ASHA workers submitted a memorandum of ten demands to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's office, highlighting their difficulties. However, promises made by the government have not been fulfilled so far.
Seema Yadav, an ASHA worker who is also leading the protest in Bahraich, said that the state government's "apathy continued" despite the health activists doing excellent work on the ground.
"We worked 24*7 during COVID-19 by risking our lives. Many of our comrades died due to COVID. The state government should provide a monthly honorarium to the ASHAs and give them the status of government employees. But instead of paying heed towards our genuine demands, they have not released our salary since March," she told NewsClick.
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