Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and New Zealand


India: Tamil Nadu sanitary workers protest to demand protective equipment

Sanitary workers in Coimbatore demonstrated on June 9 to demand that they be treated the same as frontline health workers and receive proper COVID-19 protection gear. The protest was organised by the All India Trade Union Congress and the Tamil Nadu Ambedkar Sanitary Workers Union. The workers have been not provided with any coronavirus safe equipment or even gloves.

Protesters also demanded municipal corporation officials check workers’ oxygen levels every morning and ensure that they are provided with safety gear before deploying them to work.

The sanitary workers said that nine of their city colleagues have died from the infectious disease but only one was officially noted to be a COVID-19 death. The workers also demanded that a 2.5 million rupees ex-gratia payment be made to the family of the deceased worker.

ASHA workers’ strike continues in Maharashtra

Thousands of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers who walked out on June 15 in Maharashtra remain on strike after talks between their union and the state government on June 16 failed. The workers’ action committee has decided to remain on strike indefinitely until their demands, including an increase in their honorarium, are granted.

ASHA union officials said that the state’s public health minister has refused to increase the honorarium and failed to offer any assurances on workers’ other demands. ASHA workers receive a 5,000-rupee ($68) honorarium each month. They want this increased 18,000-rupees because they have been working eight to nine hours since the pandemic began, instead of their usual two to three hours. ASHA activists are the backbone of COVID-19 care in India’s rural areas.

Vijayawada Municipal Corporation employees walk out

Vijayawada Municipal Corporation workers began a two-day strike at Dharna Chowk in Andhra Pradesh on June 14. They are demanding permanent jobs for outsourced workers, a 5,000-rupee ($US68) pension for retired workers, housing facilities and a 6,000-rupee health allowance.

The workers alleged that the state government has ignored them for the past four months even though they risk becoming infected with COVID-19 every day at work.

The protest was organised by the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation Workers’ and Employees’ Union, which is affiliated to the Centre for Indian Trade Unions.

Junior doctors hold state-wide strike in Andhra Pradesh

Junior doctors in Andhra Pradesh boycotted out-patient services at non-COVID-19 hospitals in the state on June 9. The protest strike was organised by the AP Junior Doctors’ Association. Its demands include ex gratia health insurance for all frontline workers, COVID-19 incentive payments to all junior doctors (post-graduates and interns) and increased security measures in hospitals.

The union threatened to intensify its agitation by blocking all coronavirus related emergency services on June 12 if the government failed to respond. The Health Minister and Principal Secretary (Health) held talks with the junior doctors and they later called off their strike after the state government agreed to their demands.

ICDS workers in Jammu & Kashmir demand three years’ outstanding wages

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers on June 14 demonstrated in Srinagar to demand the release of three years’ wages. The ICDS workers assembled at the Press Enclave in Srinagar chanting slogans and expressing their demands.

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