Asha workers on Covid-19 duty demand timely, better wages

Updated on Apr 19, 2020 03:41 AM IST

Of the 5,900 Accredited Social Health Activists (Asha) in Delhi, a large number of them are currently conducting door-to-door surveys for Covid-19, especially in the containment zones.

Asha workers cover their face as they cross a road during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in Vijayawada on Tuesday.(ANI photo)
Asha workers cover their face as they cross a road during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in Vijayawada on Tuesday.(ANI photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByRisha Chitlangia

Deployed as frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19 in the national capital, Asha workers are demanding timely and better wages.

Of the 5,900 Accredited Social Health Activists (Asha) in Delhi, a large number of them are currently conducting door-to-door surveys for Covid-19, especially in the containment zones.

The Delhi Asha Workers’ Association claim they were not paid salary for the month of March and that the incentive assured by the government is less than the assistance given to construction workers and auto drivers to compensate for loss of work due to the lockdown.

The association wants the Delhi government to pay workers minimum wages or at least 10,000 per month till the time they are on Covid-19 duty.

Asha workers are community health workers working with the state health missions, constituted under the Union health ministry programmes. They work on the basis of incentives — i.e. for every health activity such as immunisation, hospital delivery, routine checks of people, these workers are given incentives, not fixed salary. The workers are mostly women and attached to local government-run dispensaries. Each worker caters to 400 households, mostly near her residence.

According to the association, an Asha worker earns between 7,000-9,000 per month.

According to an order issued on April 13 by the Delhi State Health Mission’s state nodal officer for Asha (a copy of which HT has seen), they will get 3,000 as core incentive and along with 1,000 for Covid-19 duty as announced by the Centre from April to June.

Usha Thakur, general secretary Delhi Asha Workers Association, said “Most of us are doing regular duty in high risk areas. And the 4,000 payout is less than the 5,000 the government is paying construction workers and auto drivers for loss of work.”

The association had written to Delhi’s health minister Satyendar Jain earlier this month and are planning to write to him again demanding enhanced compensation for those on Covid-19 duty.

“Our salary is based on the work done through the month. We submit our reports on the 25th of every month. Last month, due to the lockdown, our work couldn’t be registered in government records. We are yet to get our salaries. A lot of us are sole bread earners,” said Thakur.

Despite attempts, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain couldn’t be reached for comment.

The association is demanding they be given 10,000 for March.

“It has become difficult for Asha workers to run their households due to the lockdown. We have requested the Delhi government to pay 5,000 in addition to the core incentive (3,000) to all Asha workers. And those who are on Covid-19 duty should be paid 750 per day,” said Kavita Yadav, state coordinator for Asha workers, All India United Traders Union Centre. “Most of the Asha workers are working on Covid-19 duty. They should be paid more.”

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