BENGALURU: Demanding minimum wage and employee benefits, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), anganwadi, mid-day meal and other scheme workers protested at different locations in Bengaluru on Friday as part of an all-India strike. A delegation of ASHA workers who were protesting at Freedom Park submitted a memorandum of 17 demands to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai's office highlighting the difficulties they are facing. No promises were made by the government, however.
Their demands included notifying all scheme workers who are deputed on COVID-19 duty as frontline workers, ensuring availability of protective gear for all health and frontline workers engaged in pandemic management, Rs 50 lakh insurance cover to all frontline workers who died on duty, coverage of medical expenses for treatment of COVID-19 for the entire family, additional COVID-19 risk allowance of Rs 10,000 per month and payment of pending dues.
"Compensate with a minimum of Rs 10 lakh all those who got infected while on duty. Pay minimum wages of Rs 21,000 per month and pension Rs 10,000 per month. Provide ESI and PF to all scheme workers. Mid-day meal workers must be paid minimum wages for the period when the schools are closed including the summer holidays," their memorandum read.
The letter raised the issues of poor working conditions, long hours of work, being denied the announced Rs 50 lakh compensation to the families of deceased during the pandemic, and cut in budget leading to lack of regular monthly remuneration.
"The National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) and the proposals of NITI Aayog in privatizing and commercializing the health services, the new education policy, involving corporates in ICDS and MDMS, etc will lead to the dismantling of these schemes. The implementation of the three farm acts, especially the Essential Commodities Act will be the death knell of schemes like ICDS and MDMS that ensure food security," they complained, accusing the NDA government of being insensitive to the plight of workers.
They asked for free and universal vaccination for all frontline workers and frequent and free COVID-19 testing for them as well.