ASHA workers on indefinite protest outside Thane collector’s office | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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ASHA workers on indefinite protest outside Thane collector’s office

Feb 11, 2024 07:38 AM IST

Chief minister Eknath Shinde, who has been in Thane since yesterday, briefly met the ASHA workers and assured them that the government would take up the issue for discussion in the state cabinet meeting on Tuesday

THANE: Over 10,000 ASHA workers continued to stage a strong protest on Day 2 on Saturday outside the Thane collector’s office, demanding that the state government issue the Government Resolution (GR) implementing the salary hike promised to them in November 2023 to end their 22-day strike.

Over 10,000 ASHA workers continued to stage a strong protest on Day 2 on Saturday outside the Thane collector’s office, demanding that the state government issue the Government Resolution (GR). (Praful Gangurde / HT Photo)
Over 10,000 ASHA workers continued to stage a strong protest on Day 2 on Saturday outside the Thane collector’s office, demanding that the state government issue the Government Resolution (GR). (Praful Gangurde / HT Photo)

Dr D L Karad, chief coordinator of the Maharashtra State Labour Employees Union Joint Action Committee, said that state health minister Tanaji Sawant had given an assurance then that the government would definitely implement the salary increase demanded by ASHA workers and block invigilators within one month.

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“We waited till December 9, then January 9, and now it’s February 9 but the government has not moved on our demands,” said Dr Karad. “ASHA workers are very upset and have thus gathered here for a protest. It is a coincidence that when they arrived on Friday, it was the chief minister’s birthday. So we wished him and urged him to act on our demands.”

Chief minister Eknath Shinde, who has been in Thane since yesterday, briefly met the ASHA workers and assured them that the government would take up the issue for discussion in the state cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Dr Karad said that apart from the salary increase demanded by the workers— 7,000 for ASHA workers and 10,000 for block invigilators—the union has demanded that block invigilators be included in the 30 percent workers of the National Health Mission (NHM) that the government plans to absorb as state employees. “They have been working with NHM for 10 years and they also want to be regularised,” he said.

The third key demand is that the state government provide smartphones to ASHA workers for their surveys. “Most ASHA workers earn about 8,000 to 9,000 per month, and most of them don’t have smartphones,” he said. “The workers are willing to participate in any ground surveys or any new schemes that the government launches at the grassroots level, but they should be provided with adequate facilities like smartphones for digital surveys. Karad said that Friday saw 16,000 ASHA workers converge for the protest, and on Sunday and Monday, the numbers were likely to increase to 20,000.

Mayatai Ghulap, who came from Nashik district, said, “The health minister had given us a categorical assurance but the GR has not been issued for three months since. The CM was meeting his supporters till 3 am on Saturday at Anand Ashram very close from here, but nobody has come to help us sitting in the open without water, toilet facilities or food. Our condition doesn’t move the thick-skinned government.”

Sharmila Thul, who arrived from Wardha district on Saturday morning, said the workers were very determined this time. “We will continue the protest indefinitely till the government issues the GR,” she said. “ASHA workers have 72 different tasks to perform at the grassroots level, and our earnings depend on the nature of the task and the population it covers. For example, in a vaccination drive, we get paid per vaccination. Sometimes, we cover a village with 1,000 people, but often we go to small villages with 400 or 500 people and thus make just 3,000 per month. That’s why we are demanding that everyone be paid equal wages.”

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