Asha workers get kudos but no proper pay

WHO award turns focus on their plight: long work hours, no basic benefits; want Centre to fix `12,000 honorarium 

Published: 24th May 2022 07:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th May 2022 07:14 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: The World Health Organisation (WHO) may have honoured them, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have praised them, but Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers are yet to get a proper salary or honorarium, or even their uniforms. The Karnataka Rajya Samyuktha Asha Karyakarthara Sangha, while expressing happiness on being conferred the WHO Director-General’s Global Health Leaders’ Award and for being congratulated by PM Modi for this, demanded that the Union government fix an honorarium of Rs12,000, apart from incentives. 

Meanwhile, Tweeple have taken a taken a dig at Modi’s high praise of ASHA workers after WHO honoured them, and raised questions on their basic salary and plight after having served during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sangha State general secretary D Nagalakshmi said Asha workers are on duty for seven to eight hours a day. “Sometimes, they accompany patients for deliveries from village to district hospitals even at midnight, stretching their working hours from 24 hours to 48 hours. They travel a minimum of 1-5km per day, and 5-15km in coastal and hilly areas, but don’t get travel allowance.

It is almost two years since they received their last set of uniforms. The health department should not impose extra activities, other than the 37 basic duties, and also provide healthcare, retirement and other benefits to the workers,” she said. State nodal officer, Asha programme, Dr Prabhu Gowda said the workers were given their last set of uniforms in December 2020. Since Asha workers from different regions had different specifications on saree material, they have just started distributing them. 

Stating that Asha workers are accredited social activists and cannot be considered employees, the National Programme Coordination Committee of the Union government has declined their proposal for a fixed salary, he said. Replying to PM Modi’s tweets, one twitter user pointed out, “Proud of their excellent work. Please pay minimum salary for their minimum livelihood. Great to appreciate. It is time to pay decent wages.”


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