Consistent struggles by ASHA and mid-day meal workers in Uttar Pradesh have secured victory in terms of clearing various pending dues and also in getting corrupt officials punished. On June 6, intensifying the ongoing agitation under the call of Uttar Pradesh ASHA Workers Union (affiliated to AICCTU), ASHA workers vigorously demonstrated in more than two dozen districts of the state and sent their demands to the Chief Minister through appropriate officials. The demonstrations took place in many districts including Lucknow, Allahabad, Hardoi, Deoria, Sitapur, Rae Bareli, Kanpur, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Hamirpur, Varanasi, Barabanki, Sonbhadra, Badaun, Pilibhit, Moradabad, Aligarh, Firozabad, Agra, Mau, Kushinagar, Hathras, Jaunpur, Kanpur Dehat and Siddharth Nagar.
Major demands of the agitation were :
- Establishment of a permanent monitoring mechanism to prevent large-scale corruption which is alleged to be to the tune of Rs. 500 crores annually, including the massive administrative corruption over incentives for works done by ASHAs.
- Immediate disbursal of honorariums pending since March 2022.
- Payment of Rs. 12,000 per month for the work done during Covid period.
- Formation of district-level gender cell to prevent sexual violence and harassment faced by ASHAs, as well as issuing circulars to every hospital against humiliating ASHAs and Sanginis.
- Punish the CMO (Chief Medical Officer) of Hamirpur District Dispensary for the shameful act of forcing ASHA worker Savitri to do sit-ins for talking over phone.
- Rs. 20 lakhs compensation to the kin of ASHAs who died due to accidents while on work. The agitation further demanded health insurance of Rs. 10 lakhs and a life insurance cover of Rs. 50 lakhs along with ESI facility and PF benefits for all scheme workers.
- Ensuring legal minimum wages and guaranteeing the status of state health worker to the ASHAs.
In this state-wide call, ASHAs and Sanginis took to the streets with great enthusiasm. They held organized processions, demonstrations and meetings on a very large scale. In Bareilly, more than 2000 ASHAs and Sanginis joined the agitation. Their energetic struggle ensured reimbursement of Rs 1,90,000 taken as advance (bribe) from the ASHAs. They gheraoed the office of the District Magistrate, forced intervention of the CMO and secured the suspension of the corrupt officer and his accomplice. More than 10,000 ASHA workers took part in the demonstrations in the state. Mid-day meal workers joined the demonstrations in Rae Bareli, Varanasi, Deoria, Sonbhadra, Firozabad, Sitapur and other districts. They demanded immediate payment of seven months arrears of honorarium. Finally, the administration yielded to the pressure of protests and massive mobilization by the scheme workers. Payment of arrears to mid-day meal workers and ASHA workers has started from June 7. Moreover, the corrupt officers have been duly warned.
Encouraged by the victory of their movement, the ASHAs and Sanginis are actively engaging in organising the union, forming committees and expanding membership. They are preparing to make the demonstration in Lucknow on 12 September 2022 a tremendous success.