Asha workers stage massive protest in Bengaluru

The women in pink gathered at the Freedom Park and protested after several meetings with government officials pertaining to their wages had failed previously. DH Photo

Thousands of Accredited Social Health Activists (Asha) workers from all over the state marched from the City Railway Station to the Freedom Park on Friday, pressing the government to meet their various demands.

The women in pink gathered at the Freedom Park and protested after several meetings with government officials pertaining to their wages had failed previously.

Vandana, an Asha worker from Udupi, said that though they are entitled to Rs 6,000 of monthly honorarium, they are receiving only Rs 1,800 per month. "We have to shell out from our pockets for our work-related travels too. An amount of Rs 150 is deducted from our honorarium if we encounter technical glitches while entering data of the house-visits undertaken by us," she said.

"We face practical issues while on duty which we cannot openly express. While examining leprosy patches, patients are unwilling to cooperate," expressed Rathna Bagamnavar.

At a meeting with top officials of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, the AICTU representatives put forth the 11 demands. The department's commissioner, Pankaj Pandey, said the government had agreed to a few of their demands, including additional saree for workers every year.

They ensured that glitches in the Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) portal would be rectified and monthly meetings will be held with the representatives of Asha workers to understand their problems. Asha supervisors can also purchase vehicles, the interest of which will be borne by the government.

On reports that workers were not paid for last 15 months, the officials clarified that the remuneration under the State government component of Rs 4,000, as well as the National Health Mission (NHM) component of Rs 2,000, and performance-based incentives which range from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,500, up to November 2019 had been disbursed. Payments from December 2019 were under process.

Asha workers have decided to continue their protest on Saturday too. Since they have been denied permission to protest at the Freedom Park, they will return to their respective districts and boycott work indefinitely and have given a deadline till March until all their demands are fulfilled.

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