The Karnataka government has threatened to cut wages for the days that rural health workers in the state have been striking. The Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) in the state have been striking for four days demanding that the government pay their dues for the past 15 months. But despite the health department’s threat of wage cuts, the striking ASHA workers say that they will continue their agitation.
The Karnataka Director of Health and Family Welfare Shivraj Sajan Shetty has issued a circular regarding the wage cut for ASHA workers who are part of the strike. The ASHA programme officer for Karnataka state, Prabhu Dev Gowda told the workers to submit their daily reports within 5 pm on Monday, failing which their payments would be cut.
However, the ASHA workers who are part of the state-wide strike for wages, say that they have decided to continue the strike indefinitely, until they get a clear answer on when their wages will be debited to their bank accounts.
The ASHA workers are currently conducting a massive strike of around 20,000 workers over the non-payment of their dues for 15 months. Asha Workers Union State Secretary D Nagalakshmi has said, “Our workers are boycotting their work 100%. Nobody is filing their daily reports. Let them cut the salaries for the 10 days that we have not worked, that’s not an issue. Our demand is for payments pending for 15 months. We are asking them to clear those dues, and then we will call off the strike.”
The striking workers have also criticised Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu for reportedly pursuing the post of Deputy Chief Minister at a time when thousands of workers are demanding answers from him.
Nagalakshmi said, “Instead of helping poor workers who have not gotten their payments, Health Minister B Sriramulu is lobbying for the post of DCM. What kind of DCM would he make if he can’t even complete his role as a Health minister? He has met the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister in continuation of his demands, but the meetings he has held with us have been unsatisfactory.”
“In the meetings we had, he has not confirmed when the money will be credited into our workers’ accounts. He should meet us and give us a final answer of when our dues will be cleared. Only then will our strike be called off.” Nagalakshmi said.
The Health Minister B Sriramulu in an interview with TV9 requested the workers to call off the strike, and said that the government would work on a solution to the problems being faced by the ASHA workers.