Thousands of government health workers on Monday staged a massive protest in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada demanding that the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government increase their salaries to Rs 10,000 per month as promised before the state Assembly elections, The Indian Express reported. The Accredited Social Health Activist workers and Community Health Workers arrived from all the 13 districts to stage the demonstration at Lenin Centre.

The government also reportedly tried to prevent the women from gathering at Vijayawada. The workers alleged that police stopped buses and forcibly evicted them and ordered them to go home. The workers who could not make it to Vijayawada held demonstrations outside district collectorates in their respective districts.

ASHA workers ensure the government’s health schemes are implemented in villages across the country. In many states, these workers are not paid regular salaries and are only given incentives for specific functions they perform, such as immunisation. There are nearly 45,000 health workers in Andhra Pradesh. The previous government, led by the Telugu Desam Party, paid an honorarium of Rs 3,000 per month to the ASHA workers and performance-based incentives.

The workers also demanded payment of their honorariums immediately, as it has been pending for over four months.

“During his padayatra, Jagan promised to increase our salaries from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000 per month,” the workers’ leader P Mani told The Indian Express. “After becoming the CM he announced the increase in our salaries but we are not being paid Rs 10,000. Instead, the government is grading the workers under A, B,C categories depending on the kind of services we provide. The B and C grade workers are not getting the Rs 10,000 that was promised by Jagan Mohan Reddy.”

Mani said the workers had voted overwhelmingly in favour of Reddy because of these promises but that they were now disappointed.

Reddy had signed a file related to increasing the salaries of ASHA workers from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000 per month as soon as he took charge in June, and reports said the revised salary would come into effect from August 1. It is not clear what led to non-implementation of the order.

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