Jammu: Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami raised the issues of ‘scheme workers’, including Anganwadi, Mini Anganwadi workers and helpers under the ICDS, Mid-Day Meal Workers under the MDM Scheme and ASHA Workers under the National Health Mission in the Legislative Assembly.
“Finance Minister during his reply on Budget flaunted that he has done so much for the welfare of employees. Then why is the Government silent on the issues of Anganwadi workers and helpers, ASHA workers, mid-day meal workers? Why isn’t Government treating them as workers and fulfilling their genuine demands? Why is Government silent on regularisation of these workers and enhancing their wages?”
Tarigami said that the National Health Mission (NHM), including ASHA workers, are on strike both in Jammu and Srinagar and added that Instead of fulfilling their genuine demands, authorities are using force to quell them.
“These schemes deliver basic services of health, nutrition, education etc to the mass of the population. These workers are not recognized as workers and are not paid minimum wages nor do they have any social security benefits. In the name of ‘honorarium’ or ‘incentive’ they are paid a pittance as low as Rs.1000 per month for ten months a year in the case of mid-day meal workers,” Tarigami said.
He said that the government has totally neglected ASHA workers, who are contributing a lot to make NHM a success scheme. The Government must consider the genuine demands of ASHAs which includes minimum wages of Rs 15,000 per month, all social security benefits like pension and gratuity.
He urged the government to implement the recommendations of the 45th ILC on scheme workers: recognition as workers, minimum wages not less than Rs.18,000 per month and social security including monthly pension not less than Rs.3000 to all scheme workers, give coverage of EPF and ESI to scheme workers.
The Contingency Paid Workers CPWs in Education have been neglected so far. Their demands must be considered on priority. Not mere assurances but concrete measures need to be taken in this regard.
ASHA workers have been instrumental in providing better medicare to the rural people especially the women folk and their young ones, besides ensuring social mobilisation. ASHAs work in rough terrains of rural areas tirelessly and selflessly, despite all the difficulties they are confronted with. The government must take serious note of the brewing discontentment among these workers and take necessary action for the immediate fulfillment of their demands, failing which; the national health mission may get affected badly.
The strike of NHM staff has affected the health services to a large extent with patients facing a lot of inconvenience in rural as well as urban areas. Government must immediately formulate a policy to regularize them. There is a dire need to chalk out a regularization mechanism for employees, including doctors, paramedical and management staff working under NHM. The NHM should be made a permanent health programme of the government, with universal application and adequate financial allocation. The government must initiate a serious dialogue with NHM representatives to settle their issues instead of using force and adopting dally delaying tactics.