Activity Reports (Jharkhand & UP)
Solidarity March with HEC Workers in Ranchi on 15th December
Joint Trade Unions took out a solidarity March with protesting workers of Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC) unit in Ranchi demanding immediate payment of wages and redressal of the demands of the protesting workers. The march started from the Union Office of HEC workers and ended at Elbert Ekka Chowk. Workers affiliated to AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, AIUTUC and other unions participated in the march in large numbers. The workers told that they all support the tool down strike by the HEC workers. The solidarity march reverberated with slogans demanding roll back of attempts to sell out HEC and payment of wages to the HEC workers. The solidarity meeting was addressed by Comrade Subhendu Sen of AICCTU, Comrade Prakash Viplab of CITU and Comrade Laldev Singh of AITUC. The leaders said that it is utterly insensitive from the part of the central and the state government to not initiate any dialogue with the workers even after 14 days of their strike. The workers are facing great difficulty in running their household due to non-payment of wages. The union leaders said that the unheeding attitude of the Central Government towards the grave crisis that the workers are facing indicate to a larger conspiracy to sell out the company. They demanded that if the central government is unwilling to run HEC, the state government must intervene or take over the company.
ASHA Workers of UP on the Path of Struggle
The capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, has witnessed continuous protests in recent months- Kisan Panchayat on 22 November, workers' protest for repealing 4 labour codes, midday meal workers' protests, protest for reinstatement of old pension scheme- and on 13 December ASHA workers gathered in large numbers for their demands. Uttar Pradesh ASHA Workers Union, affiliated to AICCTU led the protest and submitted a memorandum to the UP Chief Minister demanding government employee status for ASHAs; Rs. 21000 monthly salary; Rs 10 lakhs health insurance; Rs 50 lakhs life insurance; maternity and medical leave.
Addressing the dharna (sit-in), National Convener of All India Scheme Workers’ Federation (AISWF) Comrade Shashi Yadav said that ASHA workers work under various names across the country and are paid varying amounts, which is a blatant violation of labour laws. ASHAs risked their lives and battled against Covid, but the government still does not heed to their just demands. The Yogi government, notorious for fake encounters, tried to kill ASHA leader Poonam Pandey in Shahjahanpur. She called on ASHAs to teach a befitting lesson to the Yogi government in the forthcoming election.
The dharna was also addressed by AICCTU General Secretary Rajiv Dimri, ASHA Union state convener Sarojini Bisht, ASHA leader Kamaljeet Kaur, IREF vice president Kamal Usri, AICCTU state president Vijay Vidrohi, secretary Anil Verma and various district leaders of ASHA Union. The proceedings were conducted by Afroz Alam and Anita Mishra.
For years, ASHA workers with their hard work and skills have taken every risk to strengthen the foundations of public health and have made India proud on the world stage by controlling the maternal-infant mortality rate in the country. They have put their lives on the line in the control of infectious diseases and have contributed to the defeat of a horrific pandemic like Covid-19 in the country by fighting it from the front even though they were not provided with equipments as ordinary as safety kits. The success in vaccination for which the government is patting itself on the back is due in a large measure to the contribution of ASHAs. But nobody looks to their rights or needs. They are being made to work night and day at a shamefully meagre honorarium and degrading work situations. But the governments remain silent on their issues. The ASHAs have now taken to the path of struggle to secure their basic rights to make the government listen to their voice.
The dharna was joined by a large number of ASHA workers from across various districts of UP along with many organisations who sent their representatives in solidarity.
Continuing their movement in various forms ASHA workers under the leadership of Uttar Pradesh ASHA Workers Union have launched a “send post card to Chief Minister” campaign from 20 to 24 December highlighting their demands which has received enthusiastic response from ASHAs across the state.
The demands include:
1. Government employee status for all ASHA workers.
2. Rs. 21000 monthly salary for ASHAs.
3. Paid maternity leave and medical leave for ASHAs.
4. Immediate payment of all arrears including Corona allowance, vaccination, Covid survey and other work.
5. Withdraw cases against Poonam Pandey and all ASHAs.
6. Constitute District level Gender Cells against sexual harassment at the workplace.
7. Curb mistreatment of ASHAs at all levels from dispensaries to hospitals.
8. Arrange common rooms for ASHAs at all dispensaries where they can take rest.
9. Fix working hours for ASHAs; stop burdening them with additional work that is not part of their duty.
10. Free medical facilities for families of ASHAS; guarantee Rs. 10 lakh health insurance for ASHAs. Ensure Rs. 50 lakh life insurance for ASHA workers, who are frontline warriors in the battle against pandemics like Covid.