Health workers disappointed with pay hike announcement

New Delhi, September 11

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said his government would increase remuneration and financial incentives given to anganwadi workers and accredited social health activists (ASHA) from next month, but the female community workers said they were quite disappointed by the quantum of increase announced.

The Prime Minister, who held a video conference with community health and anganwadi workers from different parts of the country, said there will be an increase in the monthly remuneration of anganwadi workers, mini anganwadi workers and anganwadi helpers by 50 to 60 per cent to Rs.4,500, Rs.3,500 and Rs.2,250 respectively. ASHA workers, on the other hand, would have their incentives doubled, he said.

Workers unhappy

But, the long awaited interaction with Prime Minister left most of community workers unhappy. “The hike comes after waiting for seven years,” said AR Sindhu, General Secretary of All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH).

Modi's announcement came a week after anganwadi and ASHA workers joined farmers and other workers to hold a massive protest in Delhi on September 5.

The centre has fixed minimum wages for anganwadi workers who take care of children between 0-6 years of age at Rs 4,500 a month from October, while earlier minimum wages were Rs 3,000. “In Uttar Pradesh, however, workers are already being paid Rs 4,000, that includes a 60 per cent share by the centre and 40 per cent share by the state. So in essence, the wages have risen in UP by only Rs 500 as of now,” Sindhu explained. There are close to 28 lakh Anganwadi workers in India.

Remuneration

The remuneration for anganwadi workers differs from State to State. In States like Delhi, Haryana and Kerala, workers are paid close to Rs 10,000 a month. In Kerala, in addition to the wages, a pension is also given to retired workers and helpers are paid as high as Rs 7,000, while Modi has fixed minimum wages for workers at Rs 2,250. “In Rs 2,250 a month, will the helper be able to provide adequate nutrition to her own kids?,” Sindhu asked.

AIFAHW has demanded Rs 18,000 a month wage for anganwadi and ASHA workers, a minimum standard set by the 7th Pay Commission. “Nobody should be getting less than that,” Sindhu said.

ASHAs, on the other hand, who handhold mothers through their pregnancy and look over immunisation records of babies, are paid only incentives. For example, an ASHA worker would get Rs 100 for full immunisation of child under one year or Rs 300 for facilitating one pregnant mother's delivery at a hospital. Modi has announced that all incentives given to ASHAs will be doubled.

Currently there are 9.38 lakh ASHAs are working across the country and there are 83,489 posts lying vacant.

Lots of mismanagement at the incentive facilitation level has been recorded by government's own admission. “Delays in payment of incentives were common across the state. ASHAs face issues in opening of bank accounts and even withdrawal of money because of poor accessibility to banking services. Aadhaar cards were provided only at the district headquarters, and ASHAs who were not able to travel the distance were not able to get the card. The recent rule of making payment to bank accounts linked with Aadhaar, has further made it difficult for ASHAs to receive timely payments,” said a July 2017 report by National Health Systems Resource Centre.

Published on September 11, 2018

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