ASHA, Anganwadi workers to go on nationwide strike today
- ASHA, Anganwadi workers have been on the forefront in India’s battle against Covid-19, malnutrition, and various immunisations are protesting for their right to earn minimum wages, social security and pension benefits.
Millions of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers will observe a nationwide strike on Friday to push for their demand of risk allowance and insurance cover while on Covid duty, and regularisation of appointments, the joint platform of scheme workers federation has said.
ASHA workers across many states have been protesting against their working conditions and low wages since the coronavirus pandemic began. In addition to their usual work and Covid duty, ASHA and Anganwadi workers have also been carrying forward India’s immunisation drive by bringing Covid-19 vaccines to the doorsteps of marginalised people who are cut off from urban areas.
“It is the responsibility of the ASHA workers to track the close contacts of the infected patients. Also, daily, they have to maintain the health updates of malnourished children, pregnant women and lactating mothers. These expose the workers to contracting Covid-19 cases. Despite this, they aren’t getting their Covid-19 incentives,” MA Patil from Maharashtra Rajya Asha Gatpravatak Karamchari Kruti Samiti, a platform for ASHA workers, told Hindustan Times.
ASHA workers are the first point of contact for those living in rural areas for any health-related issue. They are attached to India’s National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and have helped decentralise India’s healthcare system by bringing health care services to the doors of the most deprived and most marginalised. ASHA workers have helped bring down maternal and infant mortality rates by assisting in institutional deliveries. Anganwadi workers are responsible for carrying out the government’s nutrition program for children.
This all-female army of grassroots workers who have been on the forefront in India’s battle against Covid-19, malnutrition, and various immunisations are protesting for their right to earn minimum wages, social security and pension benefits.
They have been carrying out numerous activities, ranging from door-to-door surveys, contact-tracing, running awareness campaigns and ensuring migrants returning from urban to rural areas quarantine themselves. However, since they are considered to be volunteers and not full-time employees they receive an honorarium and not a fixed salary.
While the Centre contributes ₹4,500 per month towards their pay, many state governments also contribute additional amounts which are just as low. ASHA workers were promised an additional ₹1,000 per month for engaging in Covid duty but most states are yet to credit this amount.