Health Commissioner K.V. Trilok Chandra says issue will be resolved by Monday
Over 42,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in the State, who have been working tirelessly at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic, have not been paid their honorarium for the last two months. Moreover, they have been working without basic protection gear such as masks and face shields, let alone PPEs.
D. Nagalakshmi, State secretary of Karnataka Rajya Samyukta ASHA Karyakartheyara Sangha affiliated to All India United Trade Union Centre, said the workers had not been paid for March and April. “If the payment is not made in another week, it will be three months without the meagre ₹4,000 fixed honorarium for us,” she said.
Pointing out that repeated requests to the State health officials to clear the pending payment had resulted only in assurances, Ms. Nagalakshmi said the sangha will stage an online protest and social media campaign on May 24.
“I have personally submitted appeals to all the authorities concerned, including the Health Commissioner, Mission Director, National Health Mission, and State ASHA Programme Officer. “For the last 20 days, they have only been assuring us that the dues will be cleared, but nothing has been done,” she alleged.
Although over 1,000 ASHAs have tested positive so far, the Health Department has not been providing them masks or face shields. “ASHAs have been only given pulse oximeters and are assigned visits to home-isolated COVID-19 positive patients to check on their health and distribute medicines. While doctors and paramedical staff wear PPE kits while handling COVID-19 patients, how do they expect us to work without masks,” she asked.
Meanwhile, the All India Committee of Scheme Workers’ Federation of India has also given a call for all-India strike by ASHAs on May 24.
The federation called upon ASHAs throughout the country to stand united and go on a day’s strike on May 24. “Depending on the State specific situation, we call upon all units to respond to the call of strike either through ‘Kam Bandh’ (boycott work), online protest and submission of online/offline memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister through proper channel,” said a statement.
Health Commissioner K.V. Trilok Chandra claimed the fixed honorarium was being paid regularly.
“The issue is only with part payment of incentives that has to be made through Direct Bank Transfer. It will be resolved by Monday,” he said.