ASHAs call for an indefinite work boycott

BENGALURU: Led by the Karnataka Rajya Samyukta ASHA Karyakarteyara Sangha, the Pink-clad ASHA workers plunged into a massive state level protest rally in the state capital on Friday.

Demanding a minimum monthly honorarium of 12,000/- and constraining the government to disburse the whopping 15 month due of the honorarium (central government portion), nearly 30 thousand ASHA workers from all the 30 districts of Karnataka rallied from the City Railway Station to the Freedom  Park, where they sat for an indefinite day and night Dharna.

ASHAs are the pivotal pillars of the National Rural Health Mission and have contributed to the reduction of infant nortality rate and raise in the health indeces of the State. Yet, the government pays the least heed to the betterment of their wages. This has left the ASHA workers anxious and agonized, which made them steer this massive state level rally and Dharna unto the achievement of their legitimate demands.

Addressing the protesting ASHA Workers from the Savitriba Phule Podium in honour of the first woman teacher of India, Sri K. Radhakrishna, All India President of AIUTUC, to which the ASHA union is affiliated, said thus:

“The ASHA movement is not just a women’s movement, it is rather a workers’ movement. The women workers have been subjected to gender discrimination and economic exploitation. Presently, when the country is going through severe economic crisis, unemployment, job loss, price rise etc.,only workers’ movement can show the way out of this system based on inequality. The ruling capitalist class is well aware of this fact, and hence they resort to ‘Divide and Rule’ tactics as we are witnessing today, just like their predecessors, the British. We have to get united and organized beyond all these barriers created by them”.

Speaking in support of the agitating ASHAs, Smt. K. Uma, State Secretary of SUCI(Communist) inspired the protesters as follows:

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“Through your movement, you ASHAs have showed the State that you are not the helpless, sobbing womenfolk. This country has witnessed many landmark movements against the atrocities on women. What is significant is that you have steered this movement on the birth anniversary of the first woman teacher of this country, Savitriba Phule. As we agitate against the disparity meted out to us, let us also remember and take inspiration from Nangeli of Kerala who got martyred fighting for the dignity of women.

Dr, Sudha Kamat, State President of Medical Service Centre, Smt. Lalitha Gujjala, Andhra Pradesh President of AIMSS, Smt. Aparna B R, Karnataka State President of AIMSS were part of the presidium. Sri K. Somashekhar Yadagiri, the Karnataka State President of Karnataka Rajya Samyukta ASHA Karyakarteyara Sangha, presided over the Indefinite Dharna. Smt. D Nagalakshmi, State President of Karnataka State United Asha Workers Union delivered the Keynote Address.

A delegation of the senior officials of the State Health Department, lead by Javed Akhtar, Om Prakash Patil, Pankaj Kumar Pande and others visited the Dharna Venue and received the memorandum. They said that the health ministry has sent a proposal for an increment of the ASHA Honorarium by Rs. 1,000/-.And the rest of the MCTS honorarium will be decided based on the Savings of the Scheme.

But the agitating ASHAs are unhappy with the assurance of the delegation. The Karnataka Rajya Samyukta ASHA Karyakarteyara Sangha has decided to indefinitely boycott the work, till the pending honorarium finds its way to their bank accounts.

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DEMANDS

  • Ensure a minimum monthly honorarium of 12,000/- Rs.
  • Stop linking the ASHA honorarium(MCTS) payment to ASHA Soft or RCH Portal.
  • Disburse the 15 month due of MCTS honorarium immediately.
  • Ensure MCTS honorarium of Rs  3000/- per month for all the ASHAs working for 1000 people. Increase the honorarium with the increase in the no. of people served. Otherwise, honorarium should be decided based on the manual report of the ASHAs.
  • Establish the ASHA Welfare Funds to aide them during mortal health hazards and untimely death. Compensate all the ASHAs met with accident or bereaved during their service in the last 5 years.
  • As ensured already, provide subsidies for the ASHAs for purchasing Two-Wheelers.
  • As ensured already, provide ASHAs with 4 sets of uniforms, as done in the previous years.
  • For the ASHAs who have served more than 10 years, provide Rs 50,000/- Aide.
  • Provide the retired and retiring ASHAs with pension and provide pension compensation.
  • The incentives for the fortnightly Larva Surveys and other surveys have not reached the hands of ASHAs. For each Survey, Jatha or District and Taluk level meetings, ensure an incentive of 300/- Rupees per day. Provide TA, DA on the same day.
  • Take strict measures to implement the decisions made during the ASHA union meeting in the presence of Commissioner, MD and NHM.
  • Employ ASHA facilitators for every 10-20 ASHA workers. Apart form the ASHA work, provide them with a monthly 12,000/- honorarium and TA.
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