Bihar: ASHA Workers Protest, Demand Govt Employee Status and Pension
Patna: Thousands of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and ASHA facilitators staged a massive protest in Patna on Thursday, demanding the state government fulfil their nine-point demands.
The protesters threatened to intensify their protest in the coming days if the Mahagathbandan government led by Nitish Kumar ignored them and failed to fulfil their demands.
The ASHA workers and facilitators from across the state gathered at the Gardanibagh protest site near Bihar Assembly premises.
With placards, posters and banners, they staged a sit-in protest under the banner of ASHA Sanyukt Sangharsh Manch -- a joint platform of various unions and associations.
Their main demands include a regular monthly honorarium of Rs 10,000 in place of Rs 1000, which is wrongly termed as a reward, government employee status for ASHA workers and facilitators and pension as a part of the retirement package, and disbursal of the pending amount of Rs. 1,000/month from April 2019 to November 2020, among other long pending issues.
"We do not want a reward of Rs 1,000/month; we are here to fight for a monthly honorarium of Rs 10,000 and pension after retirement," Kamla Devi, a protesting ASHA worker, told NewsClick.
Her voice was echoed by Sulochna Devi, another ASHA worker.
"We are demanding the government to fulfil our genuine demands. There is nothing special but to provide us livelihood for working at the ground."
ASHA and ASHA Facilitators in Bihar have been on an indefinite strike since last month (July 12) for their long pending and unfulfilled demands. The strike affected ground-level health services like vaccinations and maternity and child care in hundreds of PHCs (Primary Health Centres), CHCs (Community Health Centres) and Referral Hospitals.
The Left parties, including CPI(M) (Communist Party of India (Marxist)), CPI(ML) (Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation)) and CPI (Communist Party of India), have supported the protests, with some even joining them.
In the past, Left parties and MLAs also raised the issues faced by the ASHAs in the state Assembly.
Bihar Rajya ASHA Karyakarta Sangh president Sashi Yadav said the Mahagathbandhan government should fulfil the demands of ASHA workers and facilitators without delay.
"If they are demanding a monthly honorarium, government employee status and pension, the government should fulfil it".
Sashi Yadav, also a leader of CPI(ML), said that more than 90,000 ASHA workers are on strike in the state. She recalled that ASHA workers risked their lives to work during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 and have been the main force behind creating awareness to prevent the coronavirus spread.
"But they have been neglected by the government."
CPI(M) MLA Satyendar Yadav, while addressing the protesting ASHA workers, said that Left parties strongly supported them and demanded the state government to fulfil their demands
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.