Asha workers launched a two-day dharna outside the District Medical and Health Officer’s office here on Tuesday demanding higher wages and better working conditions. They carried banners and placards seeking payment of ₹6,000 as wages.
Addressing the gathering, CITU district general secretary G. Koteswara Rao alleged that the State government was paying meagre wages to Asha workers after making them work overtime. Official reports confirm that the maternal and infant mortality rate has declined drastically in the last 12 years due to the efforts of the field-level Asha workers of the Medical and Health Department.
The government, however, seems to be least bothered when it came to revision of wages for them. He attributed this to the scant respect towards women and their work. Asha workers were being paid ₹7,500 in Kerala and ₹6,000 in neighbouring Telangana. But, the government of Andhra Pradesh was not responding to the pleas of the workers for revision of their wages. Uniform allowance was not being paid for the last four years.
Asha workers, who recruited recently in GVMC limits, have not been paid their salaries for the past six months. He demanded that Asha workers, who underwent ANM training, should be given priority while filling up ANM posts.
Later, the agitating aasha workers, under the aegis of AP Voluntary Health Workers’ Union (Asha), an affiliate of CITU, conducted ‘vantavarpu’ (cooking food) beside the road.
The workers warned that if the government does not respond to their demands even after the two-day protest, the agitation would be intensified further. Union honorary president P. Mani, president B. Ramalakshmi and secretary V. Satyavathi and treasurer K. Varalakshmi, CITU district secretary Aruna, union leaders S. Padma and V. Mary were among those who were present.