As many as six lakh Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) had gone on a two-day strike starting Friday, August 7, to protest against the implementation of their salary hike is long overdue.
However, the workforce on Saturday, August 8, returned to work in Maharashtra. However, as a mark of protest, they wore black masks and ribbons to work.
ASHA workers in the state, tasked to monitor rural health, said that the state government has ensured a fixed monthly salary for them, although some of their demands were still unmet.
"The pandemic is not the right time for us to protest. Without ASHAs, the rural administration has no health force. We decided to protest for just a day, but our protest for other demands will continue without a strike," The Indian Express quoted Salim Patel from Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) as saying.
Maharashtra on July 17, after a delay of a year, passed a government resolution (GR) approving monthly salary of ₹2,000 for each ASHA worker and Rs 3,000 for block facilitators -- the state has 70,000 ASHAs and 6,000 block facilitators.
"We are also giving them (ASHAs) Rs 1,000 as COVID allowance. There is no reason to protest in our state, major demands have been approved," said Mahesh Potle, Joint Commissioner, Directorate of Health Services.
"The BJP-led state government last October promised to increase our salary. The government passed the GR in July. We have demanded arrears from last year. To date, we have not received them," said Netradeepa Patil, an ASHA in Kolhapur. Block facilitators and ASHAs are also yet to receive the July salary.
The ASHA workers, who look after 71 government health programmes, receive incentives for each. They get ₹200 for sterilisation, ₹200 for getting a malnourished child to the hospital, ₹150 for every child undergoing immunisation.
CITU and All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) agreed to resume work on August 8, Saturday, after a one-day token strike.
"We realised that the public needs ASHAs," said Raju Desle from AITUC.
Also Read: Six Lakh ASHA Workers To Go On Strike Demanding Increase In Salary, Better Protective Gear