After months of struggle, it is the time to rejoice for Haryana ASHA workers. On Friday, the health department of Haryana issued a notification upholding the February 1 agreement between the ASHA workers across the state and the government. The workers have called off their indefinite strike that was launched on July 18, following the notification.
The Asha workers across the state had given the call for indefinite strike on July 18 shortly after the two-day sit-in Karnal on July 16 and 17. In Karnal, the assembly constituency of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, more than 20,000 Asha workers had camped under the banner of Haryana Asha Workers’ Union to reiterate their demands as the BJP-led state government had failed to implement the agreement that was signed with the Asha workers on February 1.
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The notification issued on Friday says that the Asha workers across the state would get a fixed salary of Rs 4,000 per month that took effect from January 2018. Apart from the fixed salary, ASHAs are entitled to incentives for the various roles that have been performed by them. The ASHAs, who were having the responsibility of hospitalised deliveries and vaccination as the scheme launched in 2005, now perform approximately 40 various roles. Their role spread from family planning to campaigns of different schemes from government including pay home visits for 42 days after the birth of a child to oversee its health, provide proper dose of vitamins, give medicine to TB patients, follow up on underweight children, identification of malnourished children, preparing record of delivery deaths, hold monthly meetings of pregnant and young women, arrange meetings of village health committees, prepare malaria slides, maintain record of newly wedded couples, conduct tests for cancer, BP and diabetes and follow up survey, test salt samples, identification of leprosy patients etc.
As per the notification, the ASHAs will now get Rs 400 as an incentive for hospitalised delivery. Earlier, it was Rs 300 per one case. The incentives for Home Based Post Natal Care (HBPNC) and Antenatal Care (ANC) has been increased to Rs 350 from Rs 250. The incentives for vaccination have increased to Rs 250 from Rs 150. The incentives would be provided from April 2018.
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The notification also states that an ex-gratia of Rs 3 Lakhs would be given to the family of the ASHAs if they lose their lives during the work. Also, weightage would be given to eligible ASHAs in the appointments/engagement of regular/contractual MPHW (F) and staff nurses.
Haryana ASHA workers were on the battlefield since January this year demanding the implementation of their long-pending demands. The current series of struggles in Haryana had started on January 17 this year. The 16-day long strike that had started on the same day spread across the state. The series of united struggle and protests led to the formulation of an agreement on February 1. Though the government had formulated the agreement, nothing had materialised. While, the ASHA workers and unions had been reminding the government, through protests, to bring out the order.
As the government had failed to notify the order, the ASHA workers across the state on June 7, 2018, launched yet another indefinite strike. The striking workers had also given a call for Jail Bharo protest. The massive response to the protest had forced the government to notify an order considering all the grievances of the workers. While, the order had certain hidden clauses, unlike the February 1 agreement.
Following the protests, the government was forced to call the workers for a meeting and it agreed that the order they passed was different from what they had agreed upon earlier. Signing the minutes of the meeting, the health minister announced that they had accepted the demands of the unions and workers. For the implementation of ASHA workers’ demand, the government had also sought a time period of one month. But, nothing was materialised, which led to the mass sit-in on July 16 and 17.
While, the current salary hike would be just an interim relief for the ASHA workers in the state. The central trade unions have been demanding that the scheme workers should have a minimum salary of Rs 18,000 per month. Earlier, on January 17, all scheme workers including the ASHAs, had observed a day-long nationwide protest. More than 60 lakh workers had come out on the streets to raise their charter of demands. The main demands of the charter were:
- Implement the recommendations of the 45th ILC on scheme workers including ASHAs: recognition as workers, minimum wages not less than Rs. 18,000 per month and social security including monthly pension not less than Rs. 3,000 to all scheme workers. Give coverage of EPF and ESI to scheme workers.
- Adequate financial allocation in the Union Budget 2018-2019 for the centrally sponsored schemes including ICDS, MDMS, NHM, SSA, NCLP etc. to ensure an increase in wages for the workers to the level of minimum wages and universalisation of the schemes with adequate and quality services.
- 3. No privatisation of the schemes in any form and no subversion by way of cash transfer or exclusion of beneficiaries.