Thousands of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers from across north Bengal marched on the streets of Siliguri on Tuesday demanding better salaries and facilities.
The protesters on their way to the Uttar Kanya, the branch secretariat of the state government for north Bengal, were stopped at Tinbati More by the police. Following a heated exchange and a minor scuffle, a delegation was allowed to proceed to Uttar Kanya.
Ismat Ara Khatun, secretary of West Bengal ASHA Karmi Union, said ASHA workers were not being adequately paid for the work they put in, especially in rural areas. “We get some incentive from the Centre that can be up to Rs 1,500. The state government has fixed our salary at Rs 4,500. It is too meagre,” said Khatun.
ASHA workers are demanding a minimum salary of Rs 21,000.
“We should be recognised as government employees and get pensions and provident fund,” said Khatun.
The ASHA workers are taking their fight both to the state and central governments.
“ASHA workers from eight states submitted a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister in Delhi on October 22, 2021. We also submitted a memorandum to the state health department on February 18,” said Khatun.
Plans are afoot to hold a demonstration in Delhi soon with nearly 60,000 ASHA workers from Bengal, the union leader said.