New Delhi: Scores of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers Monday staged a protest here alleging that the government has been insensitive to their demands including regularisation as government employees and fixation of minimum wages.
A five-member delegation, led by Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) convener Ranjana Narula, met Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J P Nadda and submitted a memorandum detailing the demands of the workers.
"ASHA workers have been ignored by the government for decades and whatever party came to power has been insensitive to their demands. Today we submitted a memorandum to the Health Minister, but he was unable to give any concrete assurance regarding the fulfillment of the demands," Narula told reporters.
ASHA workers from various states including Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka among others, gathered at Jantar Mantar here and raised slogans against the government.
Addressing the activists, former Rajya Sabha MP Brinda Karat said, "When BJP government came to power, a picture was painted that Modi will use a magic wand and 'acche din (good days)' will come for poor. The recently tabled budget also focused on the health of rich people but forgot to give the ones who take care of poor people's health, their share."
"The disappointment of ASHA workers who have been waiting for years that the government will react to their demands, is justified. Their demands are appropriate too. They are not considered as health workers by the government but activists and are paid pittance as incentives," she said.
CITU President A K Padmanabhan, said, "Be it mid-day meal, anganwadi or ASHA workers, several governments changed but their intentions and policies remained the same. It is an irony that the Prime Minister wears a suit worth Rs 10 lakh for an event and the workers slogging for health of poor get paid Rs 10,000 in a year."
The demands raised by the ASHA workers in the memorandum include-social security benefits like pension, gratuity and maternity benefits; inclusion in various schemes available for workers like Aam Admi Bima Yojana, Rashtriya Swastha Bima Yojana and payment of fixed monthly remuneration in addition to specified incentives.