Accredited Social Health Activist (Asha) workers will get a wage hike of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 as Covid-19 allowance per month, beginning July. They will also get smartphones with their increments. Following the announcement made on Wednesday by Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope, nearly 70,000 Asha workers called off their week-long strike.
Tope also announced that the kin of Asha workers who have succumbed to Covid-19 will each get a compensation of Rs 50 lakh. Asha workers are contractually hired to implement a slew of government schemes, chiefly of the health department. There are 71,137 sanctioned posts in the state, of which 68,297 seats are filled.
Meanwhile, the group heads of Asha workers, who monitor their daily functioning, will get a permanent increment of Rs 1,200 per month, apart from a Covid-19 allowance of Rs 500. Asha workers helping at vaccination centres to manage crowds will get an additional Rs 200 as allowance. Moreover, all of them are entitled to free Covid-19 treatment at staterun hospitals. “The data compilation of the victims of Covid-19 (Asha workers) is underway and the state government is trying to settle such claims at the earliest,” Tope said, adding that absorbing all the benefits would cost the state exchequer Rs 202 crore annually.
Asha was constituted under the National Rural Health Mission to provide every village in the country with a trained female community health activist. These workers have played an important role in implementing various health schemes across the state.
Before going on strike, Asha workers had demanded that their monthly honorarium be revised from Rs 5,000 to Rs 18,000 as they work for eight to nine hours a day, which is five to six hours more than they should. Their other demands included permanent recruitment, an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh like other frontline workers, payment of arrears, 50 per cent reservation in healthcare workers’ recruitment and regular supply of masks, sanitisers and gloves.