India’s COVID-19 fight takes a hit as over 6 lakh warriors go on strike

PTI, Aug 7, 2020, 1:43 PM IST

New Delhi: A joint platform of scheme workers under programs like Anganwadi, ASHA, and national health mission is expected to participate in a two-day nationwide strike from Friday, August 7.

“The platform affiliated to ten central trade unions will also join ‘Jail Bharo Satyagraha’ call,” a statement said on Thursday.

“The unions and federations of scheme workers (Anganwadi, ASHA, Mid-Day Meal, NHM, Samagra Sikksha etc) affiliated to the central trade unions (INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC) will go on two days strike on August 7-8, 2020,” the joint statement by ten central trade unions said.

“Scheme workers, who are among frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19, are forced to take this step after four months of the outbreak of the pandemic and the lockdown because none of the minimum requirements for the safety, insurance, and risk allowance- is provided by the government,” the unions charged.

“Many of the workers have died due to coronavirus during this period and even their monthly wages are not paid for months together,” the unions claimed.

They asked the government to clear all pending dues of wages and allowances etc of all scheme workers immediately. The unions said that strikes and struggles are going on in different parts of the country.

In Bihar, ASHA workers went on strike from Thursday. In some states and areas where the Covid-19 situation is very bad, scheme workers will work wearing black badges.

“They will join the Satyagraha/jailbharo called by the central trade unions on August 9, 2020, Quit India Day, with the slogan of “Save India Day” (keeping physical distance and all norms by WHO),” the statement said.

The unions are demanding safety gear for all frontline workers, especially ASHA and Anganwadi workers, and those in the health sector who are engaged in containment areas and red zones.

They are also seeking frequent, random, and free coronavirus tests of all frontline workers. They also demanded a Rs 50 lakh insurance cover to all frontline workers covering all deaths on duty and Pension/jobs for the dependants of the workers and also coverage of treatment for COVID-19 for the entire family.

“A minimum compensation of Rs 10 lakh be given for those who got infected while on duty,” the unions demanded.

“Additional COVID Risk Allowance of Rs 10,000 per month should be provided for all the contract and scheme workers engaged in COVID-19 duty, especially ASHA, and Anganwadi workers and workers in NHM,” they added.

The unions are also pressing for including scheme workers in the category of workers, give free ration /food for all the needy and Rs 7,500 per month for all non-tax paying families for six months, ensure jobs and income for all.

They are also demanding implementation of the recommendations of 45th and 46th ILC (labor conference) for regularization of scheme workers as workers and minimum wages of Rs 21,000 per month and pension Rs 10,000 per month.

Besides they are also asking the government to provide ESI (employees state insurance) and EPF (employees provident fund) benefits to all scheme workers.

“The existing insurance schemes Pradhan Mantri Jivan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, and Anganwadi Karyakarti Bima Yojana must be implemented properly with universal coverage applicable to all scheme workers,” it said.

“Mid Day Meal Workers must be paid Rs 10,000 per month for the period when the schools are closed including the summer holidays and besides there should be no contractorization or centralized kitchen,” the stated.

“Scheme workers are also demanding the withdrawal of proposals for privatization of basic services including health (including hospitals), nutrition (including ICDS and MDMS), and education,” the statement said.

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