Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers on Friday said they would not retreat from the ongoing agitation until the government heeded they demands.
They took out a peace march in the city on November 17 as a mark of protest against the state government’s adamant attitude towards their demands which include enhancement of their honorarium.
Hundreds of ASHA workers braved a heavy downpour as they participated in the procession which culminated in a rally at Malki ground.
Addressing the protesters, President of the Meghalaya Accredited Social Health Activist Workers’ Union (MASHAWU), Marajune Myrsing, said there will be no retreat and no surrender if the state government fails to come up with some kind of assurance on their issues.
The ASHA workers have been demanding that the state government enhance their fixed honorarium from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000.
Stating that ASHAs have the right to demand for their rights, Myrsing said, “The health minister has announced that the salary of ASHA workers is Rs 5,000 but she knows the state government is paying us only Rs 2,000 which is only Rs 66 per day.”
“Let me also remind the health minister that the state government has given us a fixed honorarium of Rs 2,000 after it has taken away the ABF/MBBS benefits, which was not cleared for the past many years,” she added.
Further, Myrsing said that the union will again meet tomorrow to decide its future course of action.
“I announce the peace rally in all districts has concluded today and from now onwards it will not be a peace rally but it will be a protest rally. I urge EC members to attend a meeting tomorrow to decide our future course of action,” she said.
Health care services in over 7,000 villages have been affected in view of the indefinite strike by the ASHA workers for the past ten days.
On November 15, Health minister Ampareen Lyngdoh had presented an official data regarding the remuneration being provided to the ASHA workers which revealed that an ASHA worker from Kyrdem public health centre (PHC) had received over Rs 82,000 as performance incentives and regular honorarium for a period of six months.
According to the official data, the majority of the ASHA workers were drawing monetary incentives ranging from Rs 23,000 to Rs 82,000 during the six months’ period from April 1 to September 30, 2023 based on bank payment credit date.
Lyngdoh said that these volunteers are being provided with adequate monetary remuneration.
Stating that the engagement with ASHAs was very clear from day one which was of a voluntary nature, she said there was no promise of any salary or no promise of anything beyond the activities that ASHAs are engaged with.
She also added, “If you want to come and talk, my doors are open. I am voted to this office by people, I am a people’s person, I will meet you but don’t come with expectations that are beyond my capacity.”