A three-day sit-in protest under the leadership of ASHA worker union (AICCTU) was organized in Echo garden in Lucknow from Jan 31 to Feb 2, 2024 in which thousands of ASHA Scheme workers participated from different districts of Uttar Pradesh. The protest demanded for guarantee of health worker status, minimum wages of Rs21,000/pm, PF, ESI, gratuity, social security, maternity leave for ASHA workers as per 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference recommendations.
Anju Katiyar, a ASHA Union leader from Ramabai Nagar said that they are being paid wages only after two or three months and there is corruption in even getting their hard-earned accumulated honorarium.
The workers noted that the State government is claiming that there is massive investment coming to the state and there is no shortage of funds. So, clearly the delay in payment of wage dues to ASHA workers is an act of negligence reflecting the anti-worker stance of the BJP government.
The Modi government talks about One Nation One Election, but why can't it implement equal pay for equal work. Why is there discrimination between permanent and contractual work. Among those who direct our work, there appears to be no understanding of the nature of the relationship of our work with human health. That is why they burden us with life-threatening work, and in return, we get nothing except hunger and humiliation.
The sit in concluded after talks between the Director of National Health Mission and Union representatives. It was decided in negotiations that the ASHA workers' demands for increasing the honorarium by Rs 1,000/pm and also payment of minimum wages will be forwarded to the central government. The admin station assured that all the past earned dues, including Rs 1,900 as Covid period allowance, will be released soon.
A Gender Cell will be created and complaints filed ASHA workers regarding workplace gender issues will be looked by the Cell.
In his concluding speech, AICCTU State President Vijay Vidrohi said that the Central and State government are treating ASHA workers as bonded labour. Against these anti-worker policies of the government, ASHA workers will also take part in the Industrial and Sectorial Strike and Rural Shutdown on February 16 as part of the call given by central trade unions and farmers organisations.