Srinagar: J&K president of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami on Sunday urged government to fulfill ASHA workers’ genuine demands — including paying minimum wages, releasing pending ‘honorarium’ and covering them under incentive scheme of J&K.
Mr Tarigami, who is a senior CPI(M) leader, assured full support to a day-long strike of – to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers and facilitators. “ASHA workers and facilitators are the crucial and immediate link between the public health system and the people. They are the most vulnerable section of the health workers amid COVID pandemic. The ASHA workers are put on almost 24 hours’ duty, without leave and asked to conduct surveys, reporting the cases, getting medical help to the infected, monitoring the patients, follow up with the recovered ones and so on. These are in addition to the vaccination duties for almost 8-9 hours a day,” he said.
Mr Tarigami said in the second wave, many ASHA workers and frontline workers have succumbed to COVID-19. However, he said unfortunately, ASHA workers, who are the backbone of the health system in rural areas working on meager incentives, have even been left out in a recent incentive scheme announced by the J&K government for COVID-10 warriors.
He said it is most unfortunate that most of their families are denied the much acclaimed compensation of Rs 50 lakhs. “These poor employees are not being paid minimum wages nor are there any social security benefits. In the name of ‘honorarium’ or ‘incentive’ they are paid a pittance. The situation is so bad that even their regular monthly remuneration is pending for many months. The successive governments have totally neglected them,” he said.
He said ASHA workers are in daily and direct contact with the community; they are responsible for collecting information on all health indicators and helping the community to access treatment. “They are the first to come in contact with suspected COVID-19 patients and help them in getting screened and accessing treatment; they are also maintaining records of those patients and their contacts. Besides they are not having any personal protection equipment (PPE) while dealing with these patients,” he said.
“Rs 50 lakhs insurance cover should be provided to all frontline workers covering deaths on duty and pension/jobs for the dependants of the workers and also coverage of treatment for Covid-19 for the entire family,” he said.
“The existing insurance schemes (a) Pradhan Mantri Jivan Jyoti Bima Yojana, (b) Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and (c) Anganwadi Karyakarti Bima Yojana must be implemented properly with universal coverage applicable to all scheme workers,” he added.