Over 4,000 community health workers (CHWs) of Brihanmumbai Municipal corporation staged a one day symbolic protest on Monday at primary health care centres across 24 wards in Mumbai to highlight their demands including a Rs 300 allowance for working on the COVID-19 frontline duty during the three waves of the pandemic, pension post retirement, and wages approved by the court.
The health workers staged the protest at 204 health centres across the city without going to work.
The workers have warned that if the BMC administration do not concede their demands before March 8, 2022, then they will intensify the stir, and resort to an indefinite strike till their demands are met.
According to workers, the BMC should pay them minimum wages and should make allocations for Provident Fund and pension post retirement. These community health workers are asking for maternity leave, other leave and bonus from the BMC. During second wave, they were paid Rs.300 as Covid allowance by the BMC but has been discontinued despite the third wave and continued vaccination drives. They have also sought free treatment at corporation-run hospitals.
Advocate Prakash Devdas, Chairman of Mahapalika Arogya Seva Karmachari Sanghatna, said "These 4,000 women workers have been exploited by the BMC. Five years ago, the Industrial Court had given directions to BMC to pay minimum wages to workers, but that has not been implemented yet." He said the CHWs are presently paid an average tax deducted salary of Rs 8,000 per month, and if the court orders are implemented, their salary will increase up to Rs 18,000 per month with all the consolidated benefits. However, the BMC has challenged the court orders before the Supreme Court.
"If the BMC does not act on our demands, we will go on indefinite protest which could paralyse Mumbai’s civic healthcare system from International Women’s Day. We will not concede till our demands are met," said Devdas.