"We do a lot of work but don't get any security. Even the monthly incentive is too low. There are no duty hours for us," said Babita, an accredited social health activist (ASHA). "Though my husband works, our economic situation is not good, so I have to help him out," she added.
After the pandemic broke out, a sudden demand for medical professionals, helping hands and volunteers arose. In that situation, ASHA workers proved to be the saviour. They did all the work, including door to door surveys and taking care of patients, thus standing out as the best examples of the corona warriors. But they have their own woes and miseries.
"If a patient comes, then it's our responsibility to take care of him or her -- from reminding them for vaccination to further tests," said Babita.
Registering her anguish, she further said, "We were told that we would get Rs 100 for every corona case, but it was only till March. A high number of corona cases came in April, but we have not received a single penny for them. Moreover, we cannot avoid our duty because they threaten us that if we won't work then they will sack us."
Like Babita, most of the ASHA workers have the same story. Some say that whatever demand we raise no action has been taken so far. Now we will again go to the Chief Minister's House with our demands.
ASHA Worker Jayamala said that "Many people themselves go to the dispensary and neglect us. But we still have to take care of them because if something happens, it will be considered as our mistake."
Apart from this, people do not register through us, so if the incentive is fixed, then there will be no problems.
There are about 6,268 ASHA Workers in Delhi-NCR. An ASHA worker takes care of about 400 houses, that is, there are 2,000 houses in a colony, and then three ASHA workers are deployed there.
On the other hand, the area in which an ASHA worker lives is given the responsibility of the houses of that area.
In fact, ASHA workers have always been demanding that their salaries should be fixed, and incentives should not be given on points basis.
Kavita, the state coordinator of the Delhi ASHA Workers Association, told IANS that, "Each ASHA is doing the same work, yet why are the core incentives for ASHAs different? Karnataka has Rs 10,000, Kerala Rs 5,000, West Bengal and Haryana, it is Rs 4,000."
"The Delhi government should fix this incentive so that the worker earns at least something which is worth living. What is the salary? If you are not paying the salary, then give the incentive so that we can live."
He further said that "ASHA workers fell ill during Covid but they did not get money even for treatment. ASHA Workers do not get a salary, they get core incentives. The incentive will be made on the basis of the amount of work they do."
The incentive given on the basis of points should be fixed i.e. it should be received in Rs 3,000 per month.
However, some main demands have been made in the letter by the Association, in which ASHA workers demand that they should be given the status of a government employee. At the same time, make the core incentive of at least Rs 15,000 instead of the point system, and increase the amount of all kinds of incentives three times or pay the prescribed salary of skilled labour in Delhi (which is Rs 21,000 per month).
"The Delhi government should implement the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 to double the incentive of ASHA. For this, if necessary, use your influence over the Central government as well," the association demands.
"ASHA workers should not be forced to do any work without incentive or under pressure," the association said.
These apart, the incentive should be given as per Rs 650 per day or Rs 18,000 per month for the work done by them during the Covid. It should be implemented from March 2020.
Apart from this, the 45th Indian Labour Conference was held in 2012-13 in which all the unions along with the Central government and state government met. It was recommended that all the scheme workers should be given the status of an employee and salary according to it, but so far no government has done it, said the association.
(Mohammad Suaib can be contacted at email@example.com)
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