Bihar ASHA Workers Call For Indefinite Strike

The ASHA workers and facilitators in Bihar have given a notice of indefinite strike from 12 July for fulfilment of their 9-point demand charter which includes long pending demands some of them have already agreed upon by the state government in the past but not been implemented. The ASHA Samyukt Sangharsh Manch leader Shashi Yadav said in a statement that strike notices are being served at district levels in the whole of Bihar and on 22 June a protest day is called to hold demonstrations at all primary health centres in all districts.

She said that the contribution of ASHAs during the last 17 years have improved the health conditions particularly the decreased number of deaths at childbirth and vaccinations in the state adding to the improved national statistics. During Covid-19 pandemic ASHAs worked hard endangering their own lives, many even lost lives but their families couldn’t be compensated by the state.

The work of ASHAs has been hailed by WHO and the Patna High Court but, still, in spite of repeated requests and protests their very basic demands have not been implemented.

The ASHA workers have now been forced to go on strike which will be statewide and indefinite, and will continue till the demands are accepted. There will be PHC level demonstrations on 22 June and protests on 4 July in front of district level health officers.

The main demands include:

  1. The state government provides Rs. 1000 per month as ‘reward’ to ASHA which is quite insulting and must be renamed as ‘regular monthly honorarium’ and this amount must be increased to Rs. 10,000 per month.

  2. Even this Rs. 1000 per month has not been disbursed during the period April 2019 to November 2020. This should immediately be paid without delay.

  3. The wage payment pending before the same was started through online payment mechanism should be paid.

  4. The payment process must be immediate with uniformity and full transparency.

  5. The prevalent corruption and commission/bribes must be stopped in the payment of ASHA workers.

  6. They should be provided full dress instead of a single Saree, that must include blouses, petticoats and woollen jackets etc.

  7. The ASHA Facilitators should also be provided with full dress at state expenses.

  8. The ASHA Facilitators be paid SVC (travelling expenses) for a full month at the rate of minimum Rs. 500 per day.

  9. The rates of awards/honorarium were decided many years ago and they have not been revised for various works the ASHAs have to perform besides their regular work. These rates should also be revised.

  10. ASHAs and Facilitators be regularised and given status of state government employees.

  11. Those who lost lives during working amidst the pandemic must be provided with Rs. 4 Lakhs from state cess and Rs. 50 lakhs from the central insurance scheme as compensation.

  12. ASHAs and Facilitators be included in all social welfare schemes like pensions etc. Till then they must be given a retirement package at Rs. 10 Lakhs.

  13. The government must honour its agreement with ASHA union made in January 2019 and implement it immediately.