BMC Community Health Volunteers and ASHA Workers on Strike in Mumbai

Even as soaring heat in continues in many parts of India, thousands of frontline health workers protest in Mumbai for minimum wages, maternity benefits and other demands

Four thousand Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and two thousand ASHA Workers employed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have decided to go on an indefinite strike in support of their demands. The strike commenced on 11 June, 2024, as announced by Adv. Prakash Devdas, President of the Mumbai Mahanagarpalika Karmachari Mahasangh (MMKM) during a press conference following a meeting of Ward Pratinidhis of CHVs and ASHA sevikas.

The CHVs have been employed by the BMC for the last 30 years. The Corporation has disclaimed any employer-employee relationship with the CHVs. However, the Industrial Tribunal ruled affirmatively, declaring that the CHVs are workmen under Section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and that an employer-employee relationship exists between the CHVs and the BMC. This decision was challenged by the BMC in the Bombay High Court, which upheld the Tribunal's findings. Thus, the Bombay High Court affirmed that an employer-employee relationship exists between the BMC and the CHVs.

The MMKM and Mahapalika Arogya-Seva Karmachari Sanghatana (MASKS) claim that CHVs are entitled to minimum wages under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, from 2015, and that since 2011 they are covered under the Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Act, 1952. Consequently, on retirement, CHVs are entitled to provident fund contributions and pensions from the BMC from the relevant years. The Labour Courts have also ruled that retired CHVs are entitled to gratuity under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.

 Despite these rulings and judgments, the BMC has not implemented them. The CHVs are entitled to minimum wages of INR 18,000 (approx. Euro 200) per month from 2015, but they are currently paid only INR 12,000 (approx. Euro 133) per month. Retired CHVs have not received provident fund contributions from the BMC as declared by the National Industrial Tribunal since 2011.

The demands of the CHVs are as follows:

  • Minimum wages be paid from 2015 as directed by the court

  • Provident fund and pension be paid after retirement from 2011.

  • Maternity benefits be granted as per the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961.

  • No additional work be imposed without an agreement with the Union.

  • The order converting CHVs from employees to vendors be withdrawn.

  • The technical break given to CHVs appointed in 2016 be withdrawn and they be treated as in continuous service from their first date of appointment.

  • Additional work be remunerated at double the rate of overtime.

  • The work of surveys should not be assigned to CHVs who are not conversant with the computerised process, are above 50 years of age, or are not provided with the necessary devices.

  • A group insurance scheme be made applicable, or a premium of INR 15,000 (approx. Euro 166) per year be given as provided to other BMC employees.

The demands of the ASHA workers in the strike are as follows:

  • ASHA workers be paid a fixed remuneration of INR 1,650 (approx. Euro 18) plus INR 5,000 (approx. Euro 55) as announced by the Hon’ble Chief Minister.

  • The monthly remuneration be paid before the 10th of the next month.

  • The vacancies of CHVs be filled from the Municipal ASHA Workers with all benefits that are given to CHVs.

  • For additional work, the existing rates of remuneration be increased by 100%.

Thousands of CHVs, ASHAs and other women participated in demonstration in front of the Civic Headquarters at Fort Azad Maidan on 11 June, 2024. The Andolan (movement and protests) is still continuing.

For more information, contact:

Adv. Prakash Devdas,

President, MMKM and MASKS

Contact: +91 9820019815