Over 70,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers began their protest on Tuesday, June 15, seeking better wages, enhanced safety measures while they are on COVID-19 duty among other long-pending demands in Mumbai, reported The Indian Express.
As of now, these health workers are paid ₹5,000 per month, which they want to increase to ₹500 per day which comes to ₹15,500 per month.
ASHA workers have refused to report to COVID-related work until their demands are met by the government. They also decided not to work on 72 other programmes conducted by the public health department.
Since the pandemic struck the nation last year, the ASHA workers have been aggressively involved in the door-to-door surveys for tracing symptomatic patients, contact tracing of patients, and creating awareness about COVID vaccines.
MA Patil, from Maharashtra Rajya ASHA Gatpravatak Karamchari Kruti Samiti, who met state health minister Rajesh Tope, said, "The minister has asked us to meet him on Wednesday. Until our demands are not met, we will continue our protest."
However, the state government has agreed to negotiate on the demand put forth by the ASHA workers.
The other demands of the rural health workers are permanent recruitment, ₹50 lakh insurance as par with the other frontline workers, 50 per cent reservation or quota in healthcare workers' appointment, timely payment of arrears, and regular supply masks, sanitisers, gloves, and other materials, reported The Times of India.
So far, Maharashtra has recorded the deaths of at least 17 ASHA workers due to the pandemic.
Opposition Slams Maha Govt
Maharashtra's opposition leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis slammed the government, calling the state's neglect towards healthcare workers unfortunate. He also urged the government to fulfill their demands with the highest priority.