Iterating their long-pending demands, more than 20,000 Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers from Haryana demonstrated on Friday after the Jail Bharo call of the ASHA Workers’ Union. The ASHAs who were on indefinite strike at various centres across the state since June 7 have been detained by the state police on Friday.
In Ambala city, the workers protested outside the office of Deputy Commissioner and nearly 300 workers were arrested and taken to the police lines ground, from where they were released later. A massive support was witnessed in the Jail Bharo protest, which has taken place in various parts of the state including Sonepat, Panipat, Kaithal, Karnal and Gurugram. Trade unions including Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) have extended their support to the workers.
The ASHA workers were pushed to strike on June 7 as the BJP-led state government has failed to implement the agreement which had already been signed on February 1, 2018. Earlier, since January 27, the ASHA workers in the state had observed a one-day strike demanding a hike in monthly wages and job regularisation. Following the strike, the government was forced to accept the demands of the ASHAs across the state and they had arrived at an agreement with ASHA Workers’ Union. However, the government was not ready to meet the demands of workers as per the agreement. This adamant stand of government in settling the issues of workers had forced them to strike again.
The massive uprisings of workers and immense response to the ‘Jail Bharo’ protest forced the government to call a meeting with the workers on Friday.
“In a meeting with the officials, in the presence of state health minister, it was agreed that the government would notify the order. Though during the indefinite strike, the government came with a notification declaring an honorarium of Rs 4,000 a month for ASHAs, there were certain conditions. In Friday’s meeting, it was decided that there would not be any hidden conditions,” said Sindhu AR of CITU.
The draft minutes of Friday’s meeting read: “All ASHA will be given monthly fixed honorarium Rs 4000 without any condition but their performance will be appraised on annual basis to ensure functionality of each ASHA. The enhanced incentives will be given from January 2018. The performance-based incentive for 5 activities such as institutional delivery, routine immunization, ant natal care (ANC), HBPNC and family planning/ spacing will also be increased. Existing additional 50% incentive on monthly NHM earning would be continued and services of all ASHA facilitators would be continued.”
Apart from this, the minutes add: “Android phone for ASHA have been proposed in the PIP 2018-19 for the approval of Govt. of India. Common Almirah would be provided to ASHA at all SCs which are being converted into health and wellness centres in the state. Ex gratia grant would be provided to the family of deceased ASHA in line of ANMs and finally, weightage will be given to eligible ASHA in the appointments/engagement of regular/contractual MPHW(F) and staff nurses.”
While on Saturday, in a state-level convention of ASHAs, they have given a time period of one month to the government to implement the order. If the government fails to do so, they will go for a mass rally on July 16.