India: Frontline female healthcare workers still hugely underpaid despite push for minimum wage during COVID-19
"On India's COVID-19 frontline, female health workers push for fair pay", 28 August 2020
Accredited Social Health Activists - or ASHA workers - are the government’s recognised health workers who are usually the first point of contact in rural India, where there is often limited or no direct access to healthcare facilities.
Many of India’s one million all-women ASHA workers - who have conducted door-to-door checks to trace coronavirus patients in addition to their usual duties - went on strike this month to demand job recognition, better pay and proper protective gear...
....Enlisted as part of a 2005 national programme to boost healthcare services across rural India - from maternal care to vaccination drives - ASHA workers are treated like volunteers and not covered by state governments’ minimum wage legislation.
They recently received a 33% hike to their basic monthly salary due to the new coronavirus, and get bonuses for tasks such as 50 rupees for ensuring five children are immunized and 600 rupees for taking pregnant women to hospital to give birth.
Yet labour economists and campaigners said ASHA workers were still hugely underpaid for their duties, and earned about half as much as farm workers employed under government job schemes....