Health workers rally for better salaries

Government announces Rs 5k incentive after the protest, workers want ASHA Soft software to be scrapped.

Published: 08th September 2017 02:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th September 2017 10:28 AM   |  A+A-

Health workers en route to Freedom Park in Bengaluru on Thursday to stage an indefinite protest | S Manjunath

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: It was a riot of pink as 15,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers in their trademark pink saree-uniforms marched from city railway station to Freedom Park here on Thursday demanding a minimum payment of `6,000 per month.

The Health Department announced a performance-based incentive of `5,000, two-third of which will be met by the state and one-third by the National Health Mission. The government order to this effect was issued on Thursday itself but failed to convince ASHA workers to call off their strike.
The workers also want ASHA Soft software to be scrapped.

Principal Health Secretary Shalini Rajneesh told the protesting workers at Freedom Park, “We understand that ASHA Soft has caused a lot of problem. ASHAs are entitled to get as much as `13,000 a month but due to technical and administrative difficulties many of you are not even getting `1,500. Therefore a data entry operator at the taluk level will be appointed. Every ASHA worker will get `5,000 per month which includes grants from both state and central government. I will send a proposal for a welfare fund scheme for ASHA workers to the finance ministry.”

D Nagalakshmi, state secretary, Karnataka State ASHA Workers Union, told Express, “We want the government to give `6,000 from the state grant alone. Currently, we are required to do 25 activities with this money which is more work than what we did previously. Also, as a disincentive they have fixed `20 for not doing a particular activity. We weren’t consulted on this. Also, who will determine whether we
deserve to pay this amount or not?”

She also pointed out that one data entry operator was not enough. As workers claimed that they had not
received payment from the past three to six months, Shalini said that specific cases of non-payment can be brought to her notice as most district health officers claimed to have paid in full. The workers decided to stay put with their protest even as it rained on Thursday evening. Around 10,000 more workers are expected to join the protest on Friday.

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