Demanding that the Telangana government increase their salary (honorarium) from the existing Rs 7,500 (based on incentives) to a fixed salary of Rs 10,000, and implement pay revision, ASHA workers in the state have decided to go on a protest soon. A meeting in this regard will be held shortly and a decision on the form of protest will be announced soon, said, P Jayalakshmi, president of Telangana Voluntary and Community Healthworkers Union (TVCHU), the state association of ASHA workers led by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
Speaking to TNM, Jayalakshmi said, â€śOur primary demand has been to increase the salary. Since the government is not doing that, we want them to at least provide a fixed salary of Rs 10,000 like in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. The other demand is to implement revision of pay. As per the new revision, we are entitled for a 30% hike. However, we have not received any hike in the last two months.â€ť Under the 11th Pay Revision Commission, the government had announced a 30% hike to contract and outsourcing employees including ASHA workers in the month of March.
Earlier this week, on August 3, the district units of the ASHA workersâ€™ union staged a protest at the Primary Health Clinics (PHC) and the Collectorâ€™s offices. They even gave representations to the District Medical Health Officers reiterating their demand to be adequately compensated for their work.
â€śThere are several issues which our colleagues are facing. Some are very unique to the respective district and PHCs, but our prime demand is to increase the salary. We cannot work like this, with a meagre salary. Regarding this, we will soon be holding a meeting and decide how to protest,â€ť Jayalakshmi said.
Under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the ASHA system was created in 2005. These women were primarily meant to help rural communities access health-related services, including postnatal care for women and Integrated Child Development Services. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been tasked with the arduous work of combating the disease, from conducting COVID-19 tests to checking patients in home isolation. Though ASHA work is semi-voluntary in nature, and the workers are paid based on tasks performed, they say that their paltry earnings are hardly fair compensation.