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WB: ASHA Workers Protest, Demand Permanent Status, Minimum Wages

The union has alleged that many ASHA workers were given duties like vaccinations so that they could not attend the protest on Friday.
WB: ASHA Workers Protest, Demand Permanent Status, Minimum Wages

Kolkata: The West Bengal ASHA Health Workers Union staged a protest on Friday for sixteen demands that include recognition as permanent workers and minimum wages. The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) affiliated organisation submitted a memorandum to the Director of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) at the Swasthya Bhavan on Friday. This program created massive tension in Bidhannagar, Kolkata, when ASHA workers were forcibly stopped by the police.

A large number of ASHA activists started a rally from the Karunamayi crossing, Saltlake. But as soon as the procession began, it was stopped by the police. After a long argument, a six-member delegation led by the union's state secretary, Sabina Yasmin, met the director. The organisation alleged that the police obstructed the pre-scheduled rally without any cause.

They also alleged that many ASHA workers were given duties like vaccinations so that they could not attend the protest on Friday. This change was brought about suddenly on Thursday night.

The agitating ASHA workers complain that they are not getting the dignity they deserve. They demanded a minimum salary of Rs 21,000 and a monthly pension of Rs 10,000 by implementing the recommendations of the 46th Labour Commission. During the Covid pandemic, the Central government allocated Rs 1,000 'risk allowance' to ASHA workers, but most of the ASHA workers did not get this entire amount. They demanded that this allowance be paid on the first of every month.


After submitting the memorandum, the delegation said, "The authority said that several demands would be resolved immediately. They said they will look into why the ASHA workers have not received the money while the allowance money has been released from the Swasthya Bhaban."

"One of our demands was that the incentive money not yet disbursed. The director said they are active in this regard. This money is disbursed through a private bank. They have spoken to the bank; they are trying to pay the money together from next month, September. Now, this system is being run in only ten blocks on an experimental basis; if successful, there will be no more problems in the entire state," said Yasmin.

The delegation said, "The director said that an ASHA worker would get all health services on a priority basis through the SwasthyaSathi card. He has also given a toll-free number to talk to in case of any problem. The districts have not yet sent information regarding the ASHA workers who are affected by Corona. Work is going on to reach the insurance money to the families of ASHA workers who died due to Covid. We have demanded that this work be speeded up."

They also said, "There is no announced leave policy for ASHA workers. They have said that they will take specific steps in this regard. We have appealed for VHND work for all ASHA workers."

CITU state president Subhash Mukherjee along with other left leaders, were present in the program of the day.

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