Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers demand timely pay and better health coverage ahead of staging a state-level protest on May 17, 2022.
Farhana has been working as an ASHA worker for the last seven years. “I am a single parent and have not been able to pay my children’s tuition and rent. We haven’t received the monthly salary of Rs. 4000 since March,” she said. Of the Rs. 10,000 incentive was promised for their additional work, but only Rs.4,000 has been paid so far.
At a press conference, Rama TC, General Secretary of the Karnataka Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Association, explained the repeated demands raised by the ASHA workers. All the ASHA workers are compensated based on the data collected on the Reproductive and Child Health Portal (RHS). “The information uploaded on the RHS portal is not a true reflection of the work done by all of us. Since we get our income based on the data recorded on the RHS portal, we are not rightly paid. Instead of getting separate funds such as for Tuberculosis (TB) and vaccination, we need a consolidated payment system,” Rama said.
The National Health Mission portal shows that the monthly income for an ASHA worker is Rs. 4000. Apart from the monthly salary, there are 37 other activities where incentives are promised to the workers when they complete the tasks given by the state. Currently, there are 42, 524 ASHA workers in the state of which 39,195 are in rural areas and 3,339 are in urban areas.
Despite approaching various departments for a solution, the ASHA workers get no proper reply. D Nagalakshmi, General Secretary of ASHA Workers Association, said, “We want the payment of what we worked for; we are not asking for anything extra. We are informing all respective department heads, but we are not getting any solution from them.”
Nagalakshmi added that if the government takes no action after their protest, “We will again protest, and continue to do so until we are heard.”” On May 17, 2022, the All India United Trade Union Centre will stage a state-level protest at Freedom Park.
The project Director of the National Urban Health Mission explained the impossibility of fulfilling the demands. He said, “We make payments based on their performance. They are asking us to make them full-time workers and give them a fixed salary. Apart from this, they are also demanding a two-wheeler. But since their work is within a population of 2,500, vehicles are not needed.”
He added, “The state government has met some of their demands, such as their fixed income, which has been increased from Rs. 4000 to Rs. 500. But not everything can be changed according to their demands.”
Hemanth S, Hemanth and Associates said that some kind of recognition is required for the work done by the ASHA workers. This will improve their standard of living.