The ASHA workers union in Karnataka has decided to call of their strike by announcing that the government has listened to their demands and has agreed to pay the workers 15 months of salary dues. They have deemed the strike successful, and have decided to call off the strike, which affected health services in rural and urban areas across the state.
The strike was called for on January 3, and lasted for a week until the Karnataka Health department was forced to bow to the pressure. More than 20,000 ASHA union workers landed up in Bengaluru on January 3, and rallied for their payments backlog of 15 months. The workers had decided to strike work until all their dues were cleared.
D Nagalakshmi, ASHA workers union leader, says that the health programmes in the state were severely affected due to the strike by ASHA workers. â€śThey did all sorts of things to convince workers to go back to work. They even drafted a letter to request the workers to come back to work. But we stood firm on our demands.â€ť The workers even got a notice stating that they would not get paid for the days when they did not work. Finally, in a meeting on Friday, the minister met with the ASHA workers and assured of paying the dues of 15 months.
The union leaders have another meeting with the minister in a weekâ€™s time, to finalise details of the payments.
The Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu has had several rounds of talks with the union leaders. Initially, the Health Minister met with the union leaders and requested to call off the strike, promising they would find a solution. However, the union was not satisfied with the answer, and wanted the minister to speak about the payments first, and not about the other demands raised.
Speaking to TNM, Nagalakshmi said that they are happy with the outcome. â€śWe just wanted the government to assure us of payments, and regarding when it would happen. We look forward to finalising the payments. Rest assured, the workers are willing to start a fresh strike if the government does not fulfil its promise.â€ť